Islam Times: Anwar Eshki, the head of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies, its headquarter Jeddah, told the Agence France Press (AFP) that “Saudi Arabia and the countries of the Gulf Cooperating Council (GCC) are facing a very sensitive stage because the United States would withdraw from Iraq right away. In light of this development, the GCC countries must depend on their own selves to defend their selves”.
The German press indicated at the end of last week that the contract of selling 200 combat tanks (Leopard 2) to Riyadh would be signed soon, but the German side did not confirm this information yet.
Saudi Arabia is considered the largest worldwide producer of oil; it is the traditional customer of the American and British markets, with the exception of the naval arms deal with France, and purchasing the ‘Eurofighter’ jets.
Eshki stressed that “The GCC countries are now able to stand up to any challenge whether it was an Iranian or an Iraqi one, for both Kuwait and Bahrain are considered a sensitive case for Saudi Arabia because they form its last defensive lines”.
The Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal announced few days ago that “The GCC countries have their own strategy to save their security, for Iran is a big neighboring state and has a role to play, but in order for this role to be acceptable it must have a framework that guarantees the interests of Gulf States”. He added “Iran must take into account the interests of the countries of the region and not only its own ones”.
He stressed that “They reject any intervention or foreign adventures regarding Bahrain or any attempt to tamper with the security of the Gulf States”.
Eshki said that “Tehran is controlling around eighty percent of Iraq, and it is making efforts to avoid the collapsing of the regime in Syria”.
Answering a question about the position of Turkey, Eshki answered “We do not feel alienated from the Turkish strategy because it takes our interests into account and respect them, but Iran is seeking to dominate... What is happening in Syria nowadays is but only a clash between Turkey and Iran”.
For his part, Theodore Kasarik, the director of research and development at the ‘Enigma’ Center in Dubai, told the France Press that “Saudi Arabia is facing new threats in Yemen, in addition to the threat of Iran’s nuclear program”.
He added, “The said program raises concerns because of its unclear nature. It represents a threat to the Saudis in particular, in light of the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and the events taking place in both Syria and Lebanon”.
He continued to say that “Iran’s military maneuvers in the Gulf are not comforting the Saudis, who are monitoring the behavior of Iran with its ballistic missiles that represent a real threat to them”.
Kasarik concluded saying that “The foreign policy of Saudi Arabia has become clearer and braver and is no longer as it was in the past; it seems to be more assertive”.
Yet, despite the many sources of armaments, Saudi Arabia maintains close relations with the Americans. Neil Partrick, an expert on the Gulf affairs, residing in London, told AFP that “Washington remains to be the most prominent partner for Saudi Arabia in issues related to the security and defense, and it is unlikely to change this in the foreseeable future”.
He added: “It is possible to see the U.S. playing a key role in terms of the advisory services in Saudi Arabia’s current plans to expand the capacity of the Ministry of Interior to acquire advanced technology equipment and armored vehicles”.
He continued saying “There is a big defense contract in progress, which includes attack aircraft and missile capabilities, between the Saudi Ministry of Defense and the United States, and it is initially supported by the Congress”.
The U.S. Congress did not reject in November 19 the arms deal with Saudi Arabia, worth 60 billion dollars, and it will be if finally concluded the most important arms deal in the history of the United States.
The scheme includes allowing the selling of 84 Bomber aircrafts (AF – 15) and updating 70 other aircrafts. The deal also includes 178 attack helicopters (70 Apache, 72 Black Hawk, and 36 AH – 6A) and 12 light helicopters (MD - 530 F) for training, according to the U.S. Foreign Department.
The delivery of the aircraft extends over a period ranging between 15 and 20 years.
However, the possibility of expanding the sources, and perhaps even the advisers themselves, “is consistent with the general trend in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries, which want to ensure gaining the support of a wide-ranging diplomatic and security group in the international arena”, according to the said expert.
© Islam Times