The joint military exercise of gulf nations ‘Joint Al-Jazeera Shield Drill 10’ which concluded its fourth and final phase in Saudi Arabia has raised the hopes of reconciliation among Saudi Arabia-UAE-Bahrain and Qatar.
Al-Jazeera Shield-10 joint military drill of land, air and sea forces from GCC countries started on 20th of February and concluded on March 9, 2019 in the presence of the military Chief of Staff of Saudi Arabia, Gen. Fayyad bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili, chiefs of staff of GCC countries, and military attaches in the Kingdom and other officials.
Chief of Staff of the Qatari Armed Forces Lieutenant-General Ghanem bin Shaheen al Ghanem attended the conclusion of the Joint Drills held in Saudi Arabia at the invitation of the Chief of Staff of Saudi Arabia, Gen. Fayyad Al-Ruwaili.
It was the first highest military contact between Saudi Arabia and Qatar since June 5, 2017 when Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt abruptly severed ties with Doha, accusing it of supporting terrorism, an allegation Qatar categorically denied.
The event provided an opportunity to the military chiefs of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to sit together and exchange pleasantries away from political hostilities and discussed the defence cooperation at the GCC platform.
“GCC ground forces commanders reportedly discussed means of enhancing cooperation between ground forces of the GCC’s six member-states. Participants also reportedly discussed proposals for establishing a unified GCC military command”, Qatar News Agency reported.
Qatar took part in the Riyadh-hosted event despite an ongoing political crisis between it and three fellow GCC members.
The leadership of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia honoured the heads of delegations participating in the Joint Al Jazeera Shield Drills 10, in which a Qatari Force participated alongside the GCC Forces.
The Commander of the Qatari Force, Brigadier General Khamis Mohammed Dablan, exchanged shields and souvenirs with the Commander of the Saudi Eastern Province, Assistant Commander of the Eastern Province and Commander of Al Jazeera Shield Forces.
According to Jeddah based Arab News, the exercise aims to boost cooperation and exchange of experience among GCC member states’ armed forces, raising the level of combat training in the armed forces of these countries.
The stages of the live-ammunition exercise included chemical strikes, missile air attacks, naval vessel operations, coastal defense, storming and disinfection of villages by Special Forces, air support operations for surface forces and the conduct of military operations.
The drill follows the GCC leaders’ directives and the decisions of the GCC defence council to bolster military cooperation, enhance harmony between GCC armies and exchange expertise.
Chiefs of staff and participants from GCC countries also watched a live show of the fourth and final phase with live ammunition, coastal defense, villages’ cleansing, war operation, amphibious landing, and live-fire attack, with air, land and sea mechanisms from GCC countries.
“The drill was organized to improve and promote military readiness, and raise the efficiency and capacities of participating forces against any hostile threat to the safety, security, interests and economy of GCC countries”, Gen. Abdullah bin Saeed Al-Qahtani, commander of the exercise said at the concluding ceremony.
Beyond military cooperation, sports bodies of GCC also looking to ease ongoing tension through cooperation at the Football World Cup 2022 being hosted by Qatar.
Mohammed Khalfan Al-Romaithi, head of the UAE’s general sports authority has reportedly said Thursday that World Cup could ease Gulf tensions if Qatar shares hosting.
“My message to them is: let’s take this crisis away from us and focus on football,” Financial Times quoted him as saying.
Al-Romaithi said if in the future the crisis will finish, then all other countries would open their arms to welcome any groups from Qatar.
“This is Qatar’s success. They won the bid and is the host and we would only be helping. We are happy for the Qataris”, he told FT.