ABU DHABI ø Iraq's political development is being closely watched by neighbhoring Gulf Arab
states who have much to gain, and lose.
Sen. Chuck Hagel, a leading member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, said Iraqi stability marked the key challenge facing Gulf
Cooperation Council states. Hagel told a conference in Manama over the
weekend that the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq could determine stability in both that country as well as
in the rest of the region.
"The success of these developments will require more from Gulf states,
who must not let this precious opportunity be squandered by lack of
commitment or clear vision," Hagel told the Gulf security conference on Dec.
Defense ministers and other officials from Western nations met their GCC
counterparts in a discussion that included security and military
cooperation, Middle East Newsline reported.
The conference, organized by Bahrain and the London-based International
Institute for Strategic Studies, reviewed threats to the Gulf region.
"The Gulf region represents a vital asset in the regional and
international security equation," Bahrain Foreign Minister Mohammed Bin
Mubarak Al Khalifa said.
Al Khalifa agreed with Hagel's assessment and called for regional and
international cooperation in the war against Al Qaida and its allies. The
foreign minister also stressed the need for Iraq to restore security and
Speakers also called for a nuclear-free region in the Gulf and Middle
East. Many of them welcomed the European Union effort to extract an Iranian
pledge to temporarily suspend uranium enrichment.