DN - Defence Notes

GDA 2017: UAE-Saudi alliance underscores GCC turbulence

6th December 2017 - 12:12 GMT | by Alice Budge in London


The president of the UAE has announced the formation of a new military, economic and political alliance with Saudi Arabia.

In the lead up to the GCC summit in Kuwait the two largest military spenders in the Gulf have formed a new, separate, committee.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Sultan Al Nahyan announced in a statement on 4 December that the Joint Cooperation Committee ‘is assigned to cooperate and coordinate between the UAE and Saudi Arabia in all military, political, economic’ fields.

While official comment is yet to be issued by Saudi Arabia, the statement from the UAE announced the committee will be chaired by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the deputy prime minister and is effective immediately.

The announcement comes as both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been engaged in the ongoing war in Yemen, fighting against Iranian-backed Houthi forces..

Allegedly, both countries have been the targets of Houthi missile attacks within the past month. While the UAE denies that a missile was fired towards one of its nuclear plants, Saudi Arabia claimed its Patriot missile system successfully intercepted a Houthi missile, targeted at Riyadh airport.

The UAE is a close ally in Saudi Arabia’s efforts to counter growing Iranian influence in the region, which has included active engagement in Yemen’s civil war and the blockade of fellow GCC member, Qatar.

The six month long isolation of Qatar was led by Saudi Arabia, along with a coalition of Arab partners, after allegations of supporting terrorism and maintaining warm relations with Iran were levelled against it.

The conclusion of the 38th GCC summit in Kuwait after just a day of meetings exemplified the extent of the rift that has paralysed the committee since June. 

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