NATO and the Gulf: the new Regional Centre in Kuwait

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Series Details March 2017
Publication Date 02/03/2017
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NATO has just opened a Regional Centre in Kuwait: it is the first such presence in the region. This step can support and enhance the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI), the practical cooperation framework launched in 2004 between NATO and the Gulf states (United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain). But the partnership road is still ahead.

On January 24, 2016, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg talked about NATO-ICI as a “blossoming partnership”, during the NAC-ICI Meeting held in Kuwait City to celebrate the opening of the Regional Centre. Without any doubt, the cooperation between the Atlantic Alliance and the Gulf states has slowly advanced so far: as a blossom, it needs time, patience and a suitable context to grow. The NATO-ICI Regional Centre has an ambitious mandate: it will focus on strategic analysis, military-to-military cooperation and interoperability, civil emergency planning, training, public diplomacy and cultural awareness.

More than yesterday, NATO and the Gulf states share convergent security interests: the fight against international terrorism, weapons proliferation, cyber security, states weakening and freedom of navigation in choke-points, as the Bab el-Mandeb.

On the other hand, NATO wants to promote burden sharing, engaging partners in cooperative security, as affirmed by the Lisbon Strategic Concept (2010). Practical cooperation and shared expertise are precious tools to circumvent political differences and misunderstandings, so avoiding “high politics” deadlocks: this is why NATO partnership with the Gulf follows a bottom-up approach.

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ISPI: Commentary: NATO and the Gulf: the new Regional Centre in Kuwait [PDF]

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