GCC decides to form joint naval force
Naval chiefs of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the Arab countries on the rim of the Red Sea have decided to set up an action team to lay down the procedures and mechanism for the formation of a joint naval force of GCC and Arab countries on the Red Sea in a meeting in Jeddah on Monday, said Commander of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces Adm. Prince Fahd bin Abdullah bin Muhammad.
The decision to form the naval task force aimed at combating piracy and guaranteeing the safety of the seas was taken in a meeting in Riyadh in June in line with the decisions of the UN Security Council to curb the growing threats of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and waters off the Somali coast.
"All countries bordering the Red Sea understand that safety in their waters is their responsibility. We also underscore the significance of ourselves undertaking the combat of piracy in the Red Sea," Prince Fahd said.
All countries participating in the meeting will be members of the action team, the prince added.
The admiral said the task force would be under the joint command for a period of one year. It also aims to guarantee that the piracy menace does not spread to other parts of the Red Sea and to the Arab Gulf.
"Our task is to keep the maritime routes in the Red Sea, the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Aden safe as they are the major international routes vital for international trade with 21,000 commercial vessels crossing them annually. We will work in coordination with the rest of the countries operating in these seas and we hope that our meeting is a success and would achieve its goals," the prince said.
"Participants did not discuss the topic of interfering in Somalia or stationing a force in Somali territories because that is an independent sovereign country. It only discussed the task of the naval force and the safety of the seas from piracy. We hope that peace and stability will return to Somalia," the prince added.
Aside from the GCC member countries, Jordan, Djibouti, Sudan, Egypt and Yemen participated in the meeting.
The prince is of the view that pirates off the Somali coast aim to get rich. If nothing is done, the tendency will grow from the Somali coast to other places, he feared.