TRENDS Research and Advisory participated in a discussion panel between the GCC countries and NATO. The panel was organized by the Bahrain Center for Strategic, International & Energy Studies (DERASAT). The theme of the discussion was entitled: "Visions and Challenges of Regional Security in the Arabian Gulf and the Middle East." The event was attended by a number of experts, politicians, security officials and researchers.
Dr. Mohammed Abdullah Al-Ali, CEO of TRENDS, said in his statement at the second session, which discussed "the challenges and opportunities to confront security threats in the Arabian Gulf.” that threats to Gulf security and regional security in general, whether emanating from within or outside, are growing in momentum. The Gulf region, and the whole world are witnessing rapid developments that have consequences and effects on regional and international relations and alliances.
Dr. Al-Ali stressed that the continuation of dialogue and security cooperation between the GCC countries and NATO is important for both parties. This is due to the changing security environment in the region and the world, considering the sizable interests between the two sides. “The threats we are encountering today are not limited to one region or another, but are common threats across the globe, and no country is fully immune to them.” said Dr. Al-Ali.
Dr. Al-Ali stated that the new strategic concept adopted by NATO in June 2022, highlights considerable shifts in the Alliance's priorities for the period 2022-2030. It reflects the decline of the Middle East significance and issues in the priorities of the NATO Alliance. The alliance is now focusing on repositioning in Europe and forging new strategic partnerships with Asia-Pacific. This raises questions about the extent of NATO's interest in security and stability issues of the region during the next period.
Dr. Al-Ali added that the inclusion of the GCC member states in the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, as part of NATO’s strategy for global confrontation with Russia and China, would repeat the misunderstanding and misconception of the Gulf region on the part of NATO alliance. It fails to understand the current political posture of the GCC countries towards the power struggle for supremacy in the international system. The alliance has not yet understood that the current foreign policies of the GCC countries are based on diversifying partners and avoiding engagement in the rivalry for leadership of the international system. There are growing strategic partnerships between the GCC and other parties and different countries of the world.
In the session, which was moderated by Dr. Omar Al-Obaidly, Director of Studies and Research at Derasat, TRENDS CEO explained that the efforts to politicize Western economic interests in the energy sector to serve US and Western endeavors are geared to confront the impact of the Russian-Ukrainian war. They represent one of the challenges to joint action to confront security threats in the Gulf region. The Gulf states tend to manage their oil wealth on purely economic grounds and would not link these assets to any political considerations.
Dr. Al-Ali pointed out that there are many opportunities and factors that push towards strengthening cooperation between NATO and the Arab Gulf countries in the near future. The most important of which is the common desire to confront existing and future threats, including the challenges posed by the phenomenon of climate change. He referred to the importance of the active participation of NATO countries in the COP28 summit to be hosted by the UAE at the end of this year. The NATO members would do better by supporting the UAE's great and exceptional efforts to make this summit a success and come up with fruitful results that protect the future of humanity against the threats posed by climate change.
Dr. Al-Ali stressed that the strategic relations between the two sides should lead each party to reconsider the vital interests and concerns of the other party. The two sides should coordinate to handle any moves that could affect the security and stability of the region. He explained that the future holds many opportunities that should be invested in to enhance partnership and cooperation between the two sides.
The seminar discussed major issues related to the priorities of the Arab Gulf countries and NATO in relation to security. The most prominent threats facing them was also discussed, in addition to possible cooperative projects to promote future NATO partnerships in the region. The seminar discussed the challenges and opportunities for managing security threats in the Arabian Gulf, and expectations associated with NATO. The panel discussed issues of climate change, the environment and international terrorism.