By Mohamed Abdul-Ghaffar
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) army chiefs-of-staff met with their counterparts from Egypt and Jordan in Kuwait City on Wednesday to discuss military and defense cooperation.
The meeting was also attended by General Joseph L. Votel, chief of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM).
The gathering comes two days after another meeting in Kuwait attended by GCC army chiefs-of-staff.
That meeting saw the participation of Qatar’s army chief for the first time since mid-2017, when a four-nation Arab bloc led by Saudi Arabia collectively cut relations with Doha.
According to a statement released by the Kuwaiti military, Wednesday’s follow-up meeting was held to discuss regional security and the fight against terrorism.
Wednesday’s gathering has prompted speculation in Arab media about the possible emergence of an “Arab NATO Alliance”.
Kuwaiti daily Alrai quoted unnamed U.S. Defense Department sources as saying the meeting was aimed at “enhancing military ties between participant countries and discussing plans for dealing with any emergency, crisis or circumstance, such as the eruption of a regional war”.
During the meeting, Votel called on GCC states to set aside their differences and join forces in the face of what he described as the “Iranian threat” and extremist groups operating in the region, Kuwait's official news agency (KUNA) reported.
Votel also stressed the need to integrate GCC militaries into a joint framework -- to include the U.S. -- with a view to meeting common regional challenges.
A six-nation bloc of oil-rich Arab Gulf states, the GCC is comprised of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar.