GCC takes baby steps towards Gulf union
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit this month in Bahrain will not announce the union of the six member states, Bahrain’s foreign minister has said.
“The summit on December 24 to 25 will not declare the union,” Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa on Saturday told the Manama Dialogue, an international security conference held annually in the Bahraini capital.
“It was made very clear in May at the GCC Advisory Summit that the announcement of the union would be at a special summit to be held in the Saudi capital,” the minister said.
The leaders of the six GCC countries Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — hold an advisory summit in May, in Saudi Arabia, and in December in one of the six capitals according to a rotating system based on the Arabic alphabet.
Speculation has recently mounted about the possible declaration of the union, as suggested by Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud last year at the last GCC summit, in Bahrain, one of the most fervent supporters of the move from the phase of cooperation to the phase of union within a single entity. “We do not run towards our goals. We walk carefully,” Shaikh Khalid said in response to queries by participants at the conference.
The summit of the GCC leaders will be preceded by a meeting of the foreigner minister show will agree on the final agenda of the summit.
Regional issues and the latest international developments will figure high on the talks, but the events in Syria is set to hold a special significance.
The GCC has been actively involved in providing assistance to Syrians as they struggle with the difficult situation in their country.
Shaikh Khalid said that the GCC had agreed on a consensus that was itself based on an Arab League consensus towards the situation in Syria.
During the questions and answers session, Shaikh Kahlid rejected an accusation levelled by a participant that by supporting the Syrian people and not the regime, the GCC was making a miscalculation similar to the one it made in the 1990s when it supported Iraqi former president Saddam Husain against Iran.
“Supporting Iraq was not a miscalculation,” Shaikh Khalid said. “We did not support Saddam Hussain. We supported Iraq because of the threats targeting us. It was not a miscalculation. We supported Iraq regardless of the name of its president,” he said.