Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Twenty five years of incapacity | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Another meeting and reiterated complaints… A quarter of a century has elapsed since six countries established the region’s most important body, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Member countries are capable of achieving cooperation and implementing a custom union, unified currency, facilitating travel by relying on ID cards instead of passports, adopting an open sky policy and other policies.

If these Arab neighbors with similar political systems are unable to achieve unity and cooperation, no other Arab countries will succeed in this regard.

It is a test for Arab leaders to prove their ability to lead their people towards a common future in which they take part for the sake of generations to come.

Yet, with Gulf countries insisting on exclusion, exemption, procrastination and delay, we have spent twenty five years awaiting a miracle.

Political disputes and mismanagement are to blame for this ineffectiveness. Disagreements delayed the use of ID cards instead of passports and are the reason why security agreements have yet to be finalized. As for administrative mismanagement, it endangered cooperation because of the difficulty of bringing about change and the lack of arbitration.

The custom union is the GCC’s oldest and slowest project. Its defect, which member countries do not openly discuss, is that governments follow their individual interests instead of working for the higher common good. The failure to implement the custom union reveals the extent narrow-minded interests can influence decisions or delay their realization. Suppliers of milk, iron, meat and construction materials are unable to cross borders because of protectionist custom procedures or local licenses.

What stops Gulf leaders from deciding to solve one issue per year and pledging to implement it at once? What prevents them from moving forward on a project even if a country or more remain opposed to it, as happens in the European Union?

Twenty five years is a long time that doesn’t justify the delay, the procrastination and the false promises that the GCC summit will solve all outstanding issues. These matters are not perilous and do not deserve to be letdown.