Manama: Two Bahraini political societies have welcomed reports that the Peninsula Shield, the military arm of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), will have additional headquarters in Bahrain.
A London-based Saudi daily this week said that an additional “permanent headquarters for the Peninsula Shield is set to be inaugurated in Bahrain soon”.
The headquarters will be named The Advanced Command of the Peninsula Shield Forces, Al Hayat said on Tuesday, quoting Gulf sources it did not identify. The report did not specify the size of the Gulf force to be stationed in Bahrain.
“We are grateful for the wisdom of the His Majesty the King and the GCC leaders for making this important decision,” Al Asala, the exclusive expression of Salafism in Bahrain, said. “We have been pressing for setting up the headquarters since March 23, 2011. This move will be a highly significant moment in the GCC and in ensuring the strategic security of the GCC states. Bahrain is the eastern gate of this Council and ensuring its protection means a sound security strategy to protect us, people and leaders, from ominous threats,” the Islamist society said.
Al Asala said that the Peninsula Shield has been effective in helping foil attempts to undermine security and stability in the GCC and moves to reinforce its status are crucial.
“We call upon the GCC leaders to promote further cooperation and coordination for the sake of realising the dream of a Gulf union,” the society said.
The National Unity Gathering said the presence of the Peninsula Shield headquarters in Bahrain would send a powerful message to those “targeting the Arab nation and planning to redraw its countries along religious, sectarian and racial lines”.
The GCC states in December said they would go ahead with setting up a unified general military command for their land, navy and air forces.
“The command will be in charge of coordination, planning and leadership of the designated and additional land, navy and air forces,” the GCC states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE said in a communiqué at the end of their two-day summit in Manama.
The general command will be an umbrella for the existing GCC forces deployed in member states and will not supplant the Peninsula Shield, formed in 1984 and based in Saudi Arabia, Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s foreign minister, told the media at a press conference.
A defensive military strategy was endorsed by the GCC leaders at their Kuwait summit in 2009 “as a significant step to build a common defensive structure for the GCC”.