Gulf leaders want cyber-security cooperation with US

Gulf heads of state are planning to push US President Barack Obama for increased cyber-security co-operation when they meet in Maryland, US tomorrow, according to reports.

Leaders and delegates from the Gulf Cooperation Council, which comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are due to visit the White House today before attending a summit at the presidential retreat Camp David on Thursday.

It is believed that this request for more collaboration on cyber-security is part of a wider security guarantee. US Gulf allies are aware of the extremist threats in their region, as well as the ongoing talks to reduce economic sanctions on Iran, a move which could well see the country ramp up its online offensive capabilities, and thus appear keen to strike a formal agreement to cooperate on defensive efforts.

“In the past, we have survived with a gentleman's agreement with the United States about security,” Yousef Al Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates's ambassador to the US told The Associated Press. “I think today, we need something in writing. We need something institutionalised.”

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, speaking through an interpreter during a press conference last week, said that cyber-security cooperation would likely be part of that written agreement.

Cyber-security pacts between countries often involve pledges to share data on cyber-criminals, swap technology and cooperate on law enforcement investigations. The White House unveiled a deal with Japan in late April, while Russia and China came to a similar agreement last week.