Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Gulf Union and those who harbor reservations | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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There are two things I do not understand at all: Firstly, why do the Gulf States which are eager to create a Gulf Union not explain their reasons, and secondly why do those who have reservations not explain their reasons? Both parties are committed to silence, while we are involved in a cultural and media debate. It may be that this debate reflects the points of view of the supporters and the opposition, but we have not heard any official talk to clarify matters.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) becoming a union is not a political or financial luxury; rather there are many factors to justify it. There is the conspiring Iranian regime, which does not hesitate to use all its capabilities to undermine the region, specifically the Gulf States. In contrast, the Gulf States use their finances to build and improve their own countries, and hence each state has its own policies, military budgets and so on, which can in turn be a drain on the unity of the region. The story does not only involve Iran, the conditions of the Arab world as a whole are conflicting with many unknown features. It is the belief of many specialists and research centers, and even some international organizations, that the Arab region will be engulfed in chaos for approximately the next ten years! Anyone contemplating the reality of Yemen, Iraq or Syria, will be aware of the undoubted danger of the situation.

The story does not stop here. When the Gulf States see what is happening in Syria, for example, with the systematic killings at the hands of the al-Assad regime, and the international community continuing to stand by despite the Syrian death toll nearing 12,000, we should ask ourselves a specific question: What if Iran occupied, or struck one of the Gulf States, could we expect any real action to deter Iran from the West?

Regardless of Iran, it is well known that the new generation of GCC representatives has bold ambitions to upgrade from the idea of Gulf cooperation to a form of union. We all know – and this has been well documented – that with each GCC summit meeting, elites and intellectuals emerge criticizing the current format of the council. They say look what the Europeans are doing and look at our own council. Yet today, when the GCC intends to move on to a union, these same critics have begun to bicker again! It is truly amazing.

If some people fear the intervention of one state into the affairs of another, this would be unthinkable and unacceptable, and no one is calling for this. If there are those who are afraid of an imbalance in the population demographics of a potential union, then this is the reality in many Gulf States, and this imbalance would serve as a source of moderation rather than harm. If some fear the “big sister” Saudi Arabia monopolizing the arena, well we have all heard the other Gulf States whispering behind closed doors, criticizing Saudi Arabia’s sluggish response to some political issues, and saying how can we mobilize without its weight? How can some be scared today of the big sister, especially if we remember that Saudi Arabia has traditionally been capable of addressing every threat looming over the GCC, the most prominent example being the liberation of Kuwait, in addition to its response to terrorism, Iran and other issues? Saudi Arabia will always come under fire, whether the GCC turns into a union or not, such is the magnitude of Riyadh.

Therefore I am saying that the Gulf Union is a necessity and not a luxury, and it is the duty of all members to make it a success and turn it into a reality. What brings the Gulf States together is far greater than what divides them.