Join the Table: Ministers attend a Gulf Cooperation Council meeting in Kuwait City in November. Published reports say the council has invited Jordan and Morocco to form a military alliance. (AFP/Getty Images)
DUBAI — The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has invited Jordan and Morocco to form a military alliance to resolve the bloc’s manpower issues.
According to a Jordanian official, the invitation was presented to the two governments during a GCC meeting in late March and is under consideration.
The Morocco-based Al Massae newspaper reported that the new military alliance would include the six countries of the GCC — Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman — along with Morocco, Jordan and possibly Egypt.
“Egypt has not been formally invited; however, there is a strong push from the Saudi government to include the Egyptians in such an alliance. However, the consent of the remaining GCC countries has to be given,” the Jordanian official said.
One year ago, the GCC invited Morocco and Jordan to join the regional grouping. The most recent move, according to the Jordanian official, is seen as another step in solidifying the relationship between the only remaining monarchies in the Arab world.
According to the newspaper report, the military alliance would receive the assistance of a total of 300,000 troops from Morocco and Jordan, as well as Egypt if included.
In exchange, the three countries will be provided with financial aid.
In 2012, the GCC presented Morocco and Jordan with a US $5 billion aid package to help sustain the two countries’ economies.
“The financial rewards from a military alliance will be welcomed by both governments,” said military analyst Matthew Hedges at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis.
“Aside from the obvious reasons and closeness of these two countries, the Jordanian forces are the most professional military force in the Arab world,” he said. “The Moroccan military has been involved in security training operations across the GCC with many governments and have a long history of cooperation.”
On the other hand, the GCC would benefit from being a step closer to formalizing its Joint Command, which was announced in December at the GCC Summit.
According to Saudi Arabia’s minister of the National Guard, Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, the council intends to have a force of 100,000 members under the Joint Military Command.
“There will be a unified command of around 100,000 members, God willing. I hope it will happen soon, and the National Guard is ready for anything that is asked of it,” he was quoted as saying by the Saudi Press Agency.
In December, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the US intends to sell weapons to the GCC ahead of the announcement of a Joint Military Command. President Barack Obama in January issued a directive to Congress to facilitate the GCC defense article sales and defense services under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Arms Export Control Act. ■