Word on the Arab street, when not debating the latest on the Arab revolutions, and the state of catastrophe in Yemen or Libya or Syria, has turned to the new bid to expand the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Scrutiny lies with the two potential new candidates for entry into this Gulf state league, namely Jordan and Morocco. The twitter-sphere is buzzing (or tweeting) with humorous remarks, as well as more grave concerns around the implications of such a shift, for both sides of the equation: the new members and the former block.
Just as when the European Union was expanding in gradual stages, the discussion is centering on concerns and advantages from the perspective of the 6 Gulf state members as well as those bidding to be taken into the fold. Will this move dilute the dominant ‘Gulf’ character or politics of the incumbent States. Will this expansion create, or cement, a Cold War of Arab alliances in the Arab world that polarizes the Middle East between the Royal Monarchies or ‘Royal Club’ as it’s being hailed, and the Shiite threat of Iran?
Both applications, or invitations, at this time are being reviewed and finalized, and the status of signing up remains up in the air (dust-infested air if you’re anywhere in Jordan or the Gulf states at this time). Just now, the intrigue is running rife, with rumor and predictions on the implications to the Arab world and beyond. More question marks are raised than answers, at this still speculative stage.
While suspicion rests with the larger strategic notion behind this latest proposal, ( is Jordan to be the buffer for the Iran threat that Iraq failed to be?) a lot of attention is being given to the more personal gains and imagined changes on the ground. So with the six core nations- Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman- set to become 8, here are some of the reactions and concerns on the first expansion since its founding in 1981.