Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, the Emir of Kuwait, turned over a new page in the inter-Gulf dispute between the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman. The timing of such action came after one of the most threatening chapters to the existence of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), since its inception.
The veteran Sheikh, with his extensive experience in international relations, traveled between Muscat and Abu Dhabi in a composed, shuttle diplomacy visit. His efforts were even crowned by the accompaniment of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum [Prime Minister of UAE], Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed [Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi] and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed [Deputy Prime Minister of UAE], to the Sultanate of Oman, to turn the page on the dispute between the two countries. The Emir of Kuwait succeeded in his efforts without any media clamor, and completed his mission without any heroic statements. The Sheikh did what he did because he is a wise Gulf leader, with admirable political flexibility. He is someone who has experienced the evil of this region; how could he not, having witnessed Saddam Hussein’s army march on Kuwait? Sheikh Sabah is not only fully aware of the risk of Iranian influence on the Persian Gulf, but also of the importance of preserving the integrity of the GCC.
What Sheikh Shabah accomplished, and at this time, reflects the constant demand called for by citizens of GCC member states, namely the need for the Council to overcome its differences, or to say, although we may not want to, that political wrangling is not useful, and that states within the GCC are disagreeing on small aspects, whatever they are, whilst there are far larger and more serious challenges. Internal score-settling will only destabilize the entity as a whole. The GCC is not a rich man’s club, but rather it is the last Arab bastion which cares for its citizens with dignity and appreciation. It is the last Arab establishment that actually reflects its citizens: it designed for them, and consists of them. Unfortunately, the political wrangling that occurs between the GCC countries, in a manner that has become blatant and public, means that now no one benefits except the enemies of a Council which could do a lot for its citizens, and the stability of the region as a whole.
Today, our region is faced with a huge political earthquake, the consequences of which are ongoing. The first such consequence is Iran increasing its incitement towards all GCC countries. Anyone who follows the Iranian media will discover that this blatant incitement is now aimed towards all GCC countries without exception. Yet the consequences of this earthquake also means that the GCC members must now address the difficult and complex issues in the region, from Yemen to Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and so on. The simplest example here is that, despite all the incitement lodged against the Council, and its member states, here we see Saudi Arabia giving assurances to the world, day and night, about the state of the global economy, because they are trying to balance the oil markets faced with what is happening in Libya.
When I say today, thank you to the Emir of Kuwait, the fundamental reason is that this leader is still looking out for all aspects of the Council, the governors and the governed, the importance of unity, and the need to develop our cooperation mechanisms. Now is the time to take such responsibility. The Gulf States want cooperation, not competition, of which only Iran will benefit. Whoever does not believe that should mull over what is happening in Bahrain today.
Therefore I say, for the thousandth time, thank you to the Emir of Kuwait.