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  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Over the years since the formation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Southern Gulf states and the US have developed a de facto strategic partnership based on a common need to deter and defend against any threat from Iran, deal with regional instability in countries like Iraq and Yemen, counter the threat of terrorism and extremism, and deal with the other threats to the flow of Gulf petroleum exports.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Defense Policy, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia, North America
  • Author: James Andrew Lewis
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Gulf has become a flashpoint for cyber conflict. Cyberspace has become an arena for covert struggle, with the United States, Israel and other nations on one side, and Iran and Russia on the other. Iran has far outpaced the GCC states in developing its cyber capabilities, both for monitoring internal dissent and deploying hackers to disrupt or attack foreign targets. Several such attacks over the past two years were likely either directed or permitted by Iranian state authorities. Even if Iran holds back from offensive actions as nuclear talks progress, the growth in Iranian capabilities remains a potential security threat for other Gulf states. The GCC countries have begun to develop their defensive capabilities, but they will need to expand their defenses and collaborate more effectively to deter future threats.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Defense Policy, Development, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 01-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: US “independence” from energy imports has been a key source of political dispute ever since the October War in 1973 and the Arab oil embargo that followed. Much of this debate has ignored or misstated the nature of the data available on what the US options are, as well as the uncertainties involved in making any long range projections.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Energy Policy, International Trade and Finance, Oil
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Robert M. Shelala II
  • Publication Date: 05-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The US faces major challenges in dealing with Iran, the threat of terrorism, and the tide of political instability in the Arabian Peninsula. The presence of some of the world's largest reserves of oil and natural gas, vital shipping lanes, and Shia populations throughout the region have made the peninsula the focal point of US and Iranian strategic competition. Moreover, large youth populations, high unemployment rates, and political systems with highly centralized power bases have posed other economic, political, and security challenges that the GCC states must address, and which the US must take into consideration when forming strategy and policy. An updated study by the CSIS Burke Chair explores US and Iranian interests in the region, Gulf state and GCC policies toward both the US and Iran, and potential flash-points and vulnerabilities in the Gulf to enhanced competition with Iran. This study examines the growing US security partnership with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE – established as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It analyzes the steady growth in this partnership that has led to over $64 billion in new US arms transfer agreements during 2008-2011. It also examines the strengths and weaknesses of the security cooperation between the southern Gulf states, and their relative level of political, social, and economic stability. The study focuses on the need for enhanced unity and security cooperation between the individual Gulf states. It finds that such progress is critical if they are to provide effective deterrence and defense against Iran, improve their counterterrorism capabilities, and enhance other aspects of their internal security.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Oil, Terrorism, Natural Resources, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Far too much of the analysis of Iran's search for nuclear weapons treats it in terms of arms control or focuses on the potential threat to Israel. In reality, Iran's mix of asymmetric warfare, conventional warfare, and conventionally armed missile forces have critical weaknesses that make Iran anything but the hegemon of the Gulf. Iran's public focus on Israel also disguises the reality that its primary strategic focus is to deter and intimidate its Gulf neighbors and the United States – not Israel. It has made major progress in creating naval forces for asymmetric warfare and developing naval missiles, but it has very limited air-sea and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (IS) capabilities. It lacks modern conventional land, air, air defense and sea power, has fallen far behind the Arab Gulf states in modern aircraft and ships, and its land forces are filled with obsolete and mediocre weapons that lack maneuver capability and sustainability outside Iran. Iran needs nuclear weapons to offset these facts.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Robert M. Shelala II, Omar Mohamed
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Yemen is the most troubled state in the Arabian Peninsula. It remains in a low - level state of civil war, and is deeply divided on a sectarian, tribal, and regional level. A largely Shi'ite Houthi rebellion still affects much of the northwest border area and has serious influence in the capital of Sana and along parts of the Red Sea coast. Al Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) poses a threat in central Yemen, along with other elements of violent Sunni extremism, there are serious tensions between the northern and southern parts of Yemen, and power struggles continue between key elements of the military ruling elite in the capital and outside it.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Foreign Policy, Islam, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Sam Khazai, Daniel Dewit
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The last active US combat forces left Iraq in August 2010, marking the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the beginning of Operation New Dawn. Some 49,000 advisory troops, four advisor assistance brigades, and a limited number of special operations forces (SOF) remained to train, advise, and assist Iraq's security forces after that date, including the military, intelligence, and police. Until the end, these US troops continued to serve a number of other important security functions: carrying out kinetic operations against Iranian-backed and other militant groups; providing training to the ISF; taking part in joint patrols along the borders of the Kurdish provinces and helping integrate ISF and Kurdish forces; and acting as a deterrent to Iraq's neighbors–in particular Iran.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Riyadh Declaration, which was issued at the end of the GCC meeting in December 2011, calls for efforts to explore creating a “single unity” that could deal with the many challenges facing the Arab Gulf states.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Abdullah Toukan
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Arms transfer to the Middle East are not the sole cause of the regional problems. In fact the acquisition of arms has been the product of the unresolved political settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict as well as other conflicts in the region. Over the past five decades there have been a number of arms control proposals and attempts for the Middle east. One main weakness of these proposals was that they were not integrated into a political process. The continued Arab-Israeli conflict made it practically impossible to formulate and implement formal arms control agreements, resulting in a failure from the beginning. Therefore, in any move towards arms control and regional security in the region, the linkage between both conventional and non-conventional weapons and the ongoing peace process must be made. A peaceful solution to the Arab –Israeli conflict should proceed alongside any arms control negotiations, specially in the establishment of a Weapons of Mass destruction Free Zone (WMDFZ) in the region. It is quite evident that peace cannot be achieved while still being threatened by a weapons of mass destruction capability of a neighboring country, nor can a WMDFZ be achieved without the context of a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement. This has been recognized by the Obama administration as being a “vital national security interest of the United States”. The position of many countries in the region is that they find it difficult to enter serious arms control negotiations until some form of regional peace is fully established. This stems from their perception that nations in the region still consider military force as the only viable source to achieve their policy objectives. The danger from this underlying reasoning, if perceived as the only alternative to preserving a regional security balance, is that it could give rise to an uncontrollable arms race and to a parallel proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Any massive rearmament will surely create an unrestricted arms race in the Middle East which will automatically be accompanied by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The fear is that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction could give rise to states announcing a so-called “in-kind” deterrence or “the right to retaliate in kind”. Unless controlled this arms race will give rise to another military conflict with catastrophic human and environmental consequences.
  • Topic: Security, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: This draft analysis is be circulated for comment as part of the CSIS “Saudi Arabia Enters the 21 st Century Project.” It will be extensively revised before final publication.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Reasons for proliferating outweigh disincentives, and motivation is growing. Arms control regimes harass proliferators without stopping stem and fail to offer nonproliferators security. War fighting concepts are likely to lack clear structure and be highly volatile in terms of enemy, targets, and crisis behavior. Only a few leadership and military elites -- such as Egypt and Israel -- have shown a concern with highly structured strategic planning in the past. Iran - Iraq and Gulf Wars have demonstrated missiles and weapons of mass destruction will be used. Israeli actions in 1967 and attack on Osirak, Egyptian and Syrian attack on Israel in 1973, demonstrate regional focus on surprise and preemption. Iraq has already demonstrated regional concern with launch on warning, launch under attack options. Syria probably has some option of this kind. Concentration of population and leadership in single or a few urban areas makes existential attacks possible.
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Despite the Gulf War, and the loss of some 40% of its army and air force order of battle, Iraq remains the most effective military power in the Gulf. It still has an army of around 375,000 men, and an inventory of some 2,200 main battle tanks, 3,700 other armored vehicles, and 2,400 major artillery weapons. It also has over 300 combat aircraft with potential operational status. At the same time, Iraq has lacked the funds, spare parts, and production capabilities to sustain the quality of its consolidated forces. Iraq has not been able to restructure its overall force structure to compensate as effectively as possible for its prior dependence on an average of $3 billion a year in arms deliveries. It has not been able to recapitalize any aspect of its force structure, and about two-thirds of its remaining inventory of armor and aircraft is obsolescent by Western standards. Iraq has not been able to fund and/or import any major new conventional warfare technology to react to the lessons of the Gulf War, or to produce any major equipment -- with the possible exception of limited numbers of Magic “dogfight” air-to-air missiles. In contrast, Saudi Arabia has taken delivery on over $66 billion worth of new arms since 1991, Kuwait has received $7.6 billion, Iran $4.3 billion, Bahrain $700 million, Oman $1.4 billion, Qatar $1.7 billion, and the UAE $7.9 billion, Equally important, the US has made major upgrades in virtually every aspect of its fighter avionics, attack munitions, cruise missile capabilities, and intelligence, reconnaissance, and targeting capabilities. Iraq's inability to recapitalize and modernize its forces means that much of its large order of battle is no obsolescent or obsolete, has uncertain combat readiness, and will be difficult to sustain in combat. It also raises serious questions about the ability of its forces to conduct long-range movements or maneuvers and then sustain coherent operations. Iraq has demonstrated that it can still carry out significant ground force exercises and fly relatively high sortie rates. It has not, however, demonstrated training patterns that show its army has consistent levels of training, can make effective use of combined arms above the level of some individual brigades, or has much capability for joint land-air operations. It has not demonstrated that it can use surface-to-air missiles in a well-organized way as a maneuvering force to cover its deployed land forces. Iran remains a major threat to Iraq. Iran lost 40-60% of its major land force equipment during the climactic battles of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988. It has, however, largely recovered from its defeat by Iraq and now has comparatively large forces. Iran now has an army of around 450,000 men – including roughly 125,000 Revolutionary Guards, and an inventory of some 1,600 main battle tanks, 1,500 other armored vehicles, and 3,200 major artillery weapons. It also has over 280 combat aircraft with potential operational status. Iran has been able to make major improvements in its ability to threaten maritime traffic through the Gulf, and to conduct unconventional warfare. Iran has also begun to acquire modern Soviet combat aircraft and has significant numbers of the export version of the T-72 and BMP. Iran has not, however, been able to offset the obsolescence and wear of its overall inventory of armor, ships, and aircraft. Iran has not been able to modernize key aspects of its military capabilities such as airborne sensors and C4I/BM, electronic warfare, land-based air defense integration, beyond-visual-range air-to-air combat, night warfare capabilities, stand-off attack capability, armored sensors and fire control systems, artillery mobility and battle management, combat ship systems integration, etc. In contrast, no Southern Gulf state has built up significant ground forces since the Gulf War, and only Saudi Arabia has built up a significant air force. Only two Southern Gulf forces – those of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – have a significant defense capability against Iraq. Saudi Arabia has made real progress in improving its 75,000 man National Guard. Its army, however, lacks effective leadership, training, and organization. It now has an army of around 75,000 men –, and an inventory of some 1,055 main battle tanks, 4,800 other armored vehicles, and 500 major artillery weapons. It also has around 350 combat aircraft with potential operational status. The army has made little overall progress in training since the Gulf War, can probably only fight about half of its equipment holdings in the Iraqi border area (and it would take 4-6 weeks to deploy and prepare this strength), and has declined in combined arms capability since the Gulf War. It has little capability for joint land-air operations. Its individual pilots and aircraft have experienced a growing readiness crisis since the mid-1990s. It has lacked cohesive leadership as a fighting force since that time and cannot fight as a coherent force without US support and battle management.. Kuwait now has an army of only around 11,000 men, and an active inventory of some 293 main battle tanks, 466 other armored vehicles, and 17 major artillery weapons. Only its 218 M-1A2s are really operational and only a portion of these are in combat effective forces. It has only 82 combat aircraft and 20 armed helicopters with potential operational status, and only 40 are modern F-18s. It is making progress in training, but has not shown it can make effective use of combined arms above the battalion level, and has little capability for joint land-air operations. Its individual pilots and aircraft have moderate readiness, but cannot fight as a coherent force without US support and battle management. There has been little progress in standardization and interoperability; advances in some areas like ammunition have been offset by the failure to integrate increasingly advanced weapons systems. Showpiece exercises and purchases disguise an essentially static approach to force improvement which is heavily weapons oriented, and usually shows little real-world appreciation of the lessons of the Gulf War, the “revolution in military affairs,” and the need for sustainability. Current arms deliveries are making only token progress in correcting the qualitative defects in Southern Gulf forces, and no meaningful progress in being made towards integrating the Southern Gulf countries under the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 06-2001
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: This draft analysis is be circulated for comment as part of the CSIS “Saudi Arabia Enters the 21 st Century Project.” It will be extensively revised before final publication.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, Saudi Arabia