Kuwait conference tackles cybersecurity

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Manama: Cybersecurity, crisis management, energy security and civil emergency planning are the current focus of the Kuwait-based Nato-Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) Regional Centre, an official at Kuwait’s National Security Bureau said.

The centre is also focusing on ways to respond to chemical, biological, nuclear and radioactive accidents, Shaikh Fawaz Al Sabah, head of security information and follow-up at the Bureau, said in a statement following a meeting of the ICI advisory group.

The two-day consultations touched upon the development of relations and partnerships between ICI countries and Nato members, Kuwait News Agency (Kuna) quoted him as saying.

The informal meeting, which saw the participation of medium-level commanders, academics and representatives from the ICI and Nato countries, also discussed preparations for Nato’s June summit in the Belgian capital Brussels.

Saudi, Omani and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretariat officials also attended the meeting.

Nato launched the ICI in 2004 to “contribute to long-term global and regional security by offering GCC countries practical bilateral security cooperation with Nato”.

Nato officials said the ICI was complementary, but distinct from the Mediterranean Dialogue Nato launched in December 1994, with countries in North Africa and eastern Mediterranean.

Kuwait joined the ICI in December 2004, followed by Bahrain and Qatar in February 2005 and the UAE in June 2005.

At its Chicago summit in May 2012, Nato in its communiqué said that it looked forward to a better understanding of common security threats in the region.

“We will strengthen political dialogue and practical cooperation in the ICI,” the communiqué said. “We encourage our ICI partner countries to be proactive in exploiting the opportunities offered by their partnership with Nato. We remain open to receiving new members in the ICI,” the 28-member alliance said.

The Nato-Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) Regional Centre was inaugurated in Kuwait City on January 24, 2017.

“The partnerships we will strengthen through this Centre are vitally important to Nato, because the security of Gulf countries is directly linked to the security of all Allies,” Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said as he led the North Atlantic Council in celebrating the historic event.

As Nato’s first presence in the Gulf region, the Centre will be a vital hub for practical cooperation in a range of areas, including strategic analysis, civil emergence planning, military-to-military cooperation and public diplomacy, Nato said.