Yemen conflict can strengthen Arab military alliance, retired major says

  • 7 August 2015

The Arab world should build on the military success it has achieved in Yemen, a military expert says.

In a lecture titled Strategic Dimensions of the Joint Arab Military Force Project at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) on Wednesday, retired Maj Gen Dr Saleh Al Mayteh said that this success can be attributed to popular support for the campaign to ensure a legitimate government in Yemen.

He said that the joint Arab military force project brings a strengthening of cooperation in terms of strategy and the deployment of resources.

Dr Al Mayteh, who attained the rank of major general during his service in the Jordanian armed forces, is a faculty member at the National Defence College in the UAE.

“The GCC security alliance has presented itself as a new system in the Arab world,” he said.

Dr Al Mayteh emphasised that a joint Arab military force could build on the experiences of the Peninsula Shield Forces and Operation Decisive Storm, which later became Operation Restoring Hope, active in Yemen.

This, he said, should be seen in the context of forming a strong Arab military alliance, or an “Arab Nato”, in light of the shifting landscape in the Middle East.

“The current period of instability in the region can be tracked back to Iran-Iraq war as we are still struggling with the ramifications of that,” Dr Al Mayteh said.

On the recent nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 countries, he said that Iran has energy reserves that are vital for Europe.

“There is a trade potential worth US$450 billion (Dh1.65 trillion) and alliances are being built to fight against Da’esh. Ultimately, it is about geopolitics and control over natural resources,” he said, adding that the concept of a joint Arab military force is not new.

Dr Al Mayteh said that efforts to increase military cooperation among Arab countries have historically faced a number of obstacles in relation to compatibility, including contrasting political systems and outlooks, the diversity of threats faced and having to contend with different military doctrines and strategies.

Before any such alliance becomes a reality, he said Arab countries will have to review earlier defence experiments that have sought to resolve armed conflicts in the region. He also said that security should be seen in a larger context, to include water, food and energy resources.