Thursday, October 09, 2008

NATO and the GCC

The outgoing Chairman of the NATO Parliamentary Association says NATO could defend a GCC state from attack:
"'Nato will not remain indifferent if there were to be an aggression or attack on a Gulf country. For example, when Kuwait was attacked in 1990, we were unanimous in condemning this and taking part in the first war. However, we opposed to the second Iraq war and it shows it was not the same situation. Kuwait was attacked and therefore we were in agreement with the war,' Jean-Michel Boucheron, outgoing Chairman of the Nato Parliamentary Association (PA), Mediterranean and Middle East Special Group, told Gulf News.

"Boucheron added there is also a possibility of having a French base in the UAE and it shows how indivisible security is for Nato, the West and the GCC countries. And of course, an attack against a GCC country would be very badly viewed as it would work against the security interests of all."

The article takes this as a statement extending the NATO security umbrella over the Arab Gulf states. Reading Boucheron's statement carefully, however, it definitely stops short of making promises, and later the incoming NPA chair, one Vahir Erdem, is quoted as saying that attacks on the GCC would be a UN affair, and that NATO would only become involved after a UN decision.

NATO-PA is operationally separate from NATO, and seems like an attempt by the legislatures of NATO states to develop at least a consultative role in matters related to their mutual military cooperation. If Boucheron is French, as his name indicates, his comments may be related to France's strong military line on the Gulf. Paris has openly committed to deploying 75,000 troops to the UAE if required and is an important arms supplier to the region's militaries.

(Crossposted to American Footprints)

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