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Commentary: GCC Scared Of Iran

Amr Mousa
By Arnaud De Borchgrave
UPI editor at large
United Arab Emirates (UPI) Jan 12, 2006
Israel, not Iran, is the nuclear danger, according to the six Arab oil states, known as the Gulf Cooperation Council, which control almost half the world's oil, on the other side of the Persian Gulf.

At their last summit meeting in mid-December, the United Arab Emirates (which includes Abu Dhabi and Dubai) alone wanted a specific mention of the Iranian "threat." The two oil-rich states of Qatar and Oman, the "Gulfies" that have maintained low-level relations with Israel, and close relations with Iran, objected to anything that might antagonize the mullahcracy in Tehran. As did Saudi Arabia.

Reinforced by a last-minute letter from Amr Mousa, the secretary general of the 21-nation Arab League, asking them to ignore the Iranian nuclear issue, the appeasers carried the day. Instead, they focused on Israel's nuclear arsenal (reported to be some 300 weapons). Mousa told them the "main issue" is "Israel's nuclear threat."

As a sop to the UAE, the five others agreed to strong language about the three strategic islands in the Strait of Hormuz annexed by Iran three decades ago. But this has become routine over the years.

All six GCC countries are deeply concerned about Iran's secret nuclear weapons program. Privately, GCC officials, not for attribution, say their main worry is a regional arms race that would be triggered by Iran's nuclear breakthrough unless checked by the European Union and the United States. GCC "newspeak" substitutes alarm about Israel for alarm about Iran. The International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, the GCC said in its last summit communique, should lean on Israel to accept inspection of its nuclear facilities.

Slighted, the UAE renewed its border dispute with Saudi Arabia. The Emirates released a map that shows its territory extending 18 miles west into Saudi Arabia. The adjustment would give the UAE a land link to Qatar in the north, which backs the Emirates' claim. Qatar and the UAE have announced plans to build a causeway that would link the two countries. Saudi Arabia says it will not allow the construction to proceed.

The new map was the latest move in a campaign led by Abu Dhabi to reopen a border agreement with Riyadh reached in 1974.

The UAE has also staked a claim to the Shayba oil field in Saudi Arabia, originally discovered by Abu Dhabi and which produces half a million barrels a day, or about $32 million in revenue. The UAE nets more than $150 million a day in oil revenue; Saudi Arabia, $640 million. The Arab Gulf countries will earn some $300 billion.

In 2006, oil revenues are expected to set a record of more than $1 trillion. OPEC alone, or 40 percent of the world's oil supplies, is estimated to make $522 billion, of which more than $300 billion are for the Arab states of the Gulf.

At $64 a barrel, oil hit a three-month high this week, driven by concern over Iran's nuclear plans and possible punitive action by Israel, or economic sanctions by Europe and the United States.

The Gulf oil bonanza has triggered a return to large arms purchases, as well as the implementation of plans to build a defense and aerospace industry in GCC countries. Lured by high salaries and top-notch benefits, more than a quarter of all engineers employed by British defense and aerospace companies have been hired by the six GCC states - Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE.

A survey conducted by Wynnwith Engineering showed 26 percent of engineering jobs open to British nationals were in the Gulf, 46 percent in Britain, and 25 percent in the rest of Europe.

Last month, Britain and Saudi Arabia signed a memorandum of understanding that is designed to sell up to $16 billion of Eurofighter Typhoon fighter-bombers. BAE Systems is Britain's largest employer in Saudi Arabia with 4,800 people, about half of them British nationals.

Source: United Press International

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World Powers Threaten Defiant Iran Over Nuclear Crisis
Vienna, Jan 11 (AFP) Jan 11, 2006
World powers threatened Iran with UN Security Council sanctions Wednesday after it resumed sensitive nuclear activities as a defiant Tehran vowed to press ahead with its disputed atomic programme.



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