NATO Wants To Cooperate with Gulf States Against Terror

NATO’s Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer proposed Dec. 1 closer cooperation with the resource-rich Arab countries in fighting terror, warning that the Gulf states face major obstacles.

“It is clear that this region faces formidable security challenges,” said de Hoop Scheffer at a conference in the Qatari capital.

“Several countries in this region have been the target of terrorist attacks. And your immediate neighborhood remains a flashpoint of unresolved regional issues, of proliferation risks, and of political and religious extremism.”

De Hoop Scheffer said the new security threats facing the world, and NATO’s changing role and mission after the end of the Cold War, are behind the interest in cooperating with Gulf countries.

He said this cooperation could include defense reform, crisis management and civil emergency planning as well as military-to-military contacts, exercises and education.

De Hoop Scheffer spoke at the one-day NATO and Security in the Gulf conference, which was attended by U.S., European and Gulf security and defense officials.

Among those present was Gordon Gray, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state.

Many of the Gulf countries are staunch allies of the United States in its war on terror.

The U.S. military already maintains bases in Bahrain and Kuwait and has an important presence in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi Arabia, which has been the scene of several deadly bombings and attacks on Westerners over the past two years, continues to battle alleged members of the al-Qaida terror network.

A suicide bomber in Qatar in March killed one Briton and wounded 12 people, while clashes in Kuwait between security forces and militants in January left three people dead.