Friday, May 4, 2012

Gulf States Stuck Between 800 Lb. Saudi Gorilla and King Kong

(Reuters) – Distrust among Sunni Gulf Arab states has scuppered the installation of a joint missile shield which Washington has long urged as the best means of defence against any strike by Iran.

The oil-exporting states have spent billions on U.S.-built anti-missile platforms but have fallen short of building a unified umbrella and an early warning system, despite their expressed intention to do so.

Analysts say that although they belong to the same political and military alliance, the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members remain uneasy about sharing data. Nor can they decide on the location of a central command and are struggling to find ways to work together in case of an emergency.

“The question is not only about trust among Gulf states but also trust in the Americans,” said Mustafa Alani, a Middle East defence analyst. “The central command is going to be controlled by a powerful state (Saudi Arabia) and the Americans and the small states will be sandwiched between the two.”

U.S. officials say the missile shield is part of a global plan that includes deployment of sea and land-based systems in Europe, the Middle East and Asia to counter the threat of ballistic missiles from states like Iran and North Korea. Read More