The GCC summit in Kuwait ended last Tuesday with a list of decisions being issued; the electrical network between GCC states was initiated, and this is an important and vital decision. Another important issue is the establishment of a military force for rapid intervention, and entering an agreement to bring currency union into force, as well as condemning the Houthi attack on Saudi territory, and supporting Yemeni unity, and overcoming “the bump” of selecting a Bahraini candidate to be the next GCC Secretary General.
Everything previously mentioned is a good thing, whether it meets the ambitions of the GCC countries or not. But there remains one issue that deserves attention, and that is the proposal put forward by Qatar on establishing a joint development bank for the GCC states. According what was indicated in the [Kuwait summit’s] closing statement, this proposal has been referred for [further] study.
This proposal is very important if the Gulf States want to make their financial actions more feasible and effective, and the best example of this is Yemen. What is the meaning of the GCC states supporting Yemeni stability? How will they do this given that Yemen is facing difficulties that could destabilize any country; there is Al Qaeda, the Houthi rebels, and the [southern] separatists, not to mention the poverty resulting from appalling economic conditions. Yemen is a threat because it is a reservoir of problems, and if this explodes the GCC states will be affected by these problems. Therefore a bank of this kind can play an important role in supporting Yemen and its stability through a serious mechanism, not via grants or donations that nobody knows where they end up.
One might say that the Qatari proposal is for a development bank for GCC member states, and this is true. But the Gulf leaders know that they cannot ignore Yemen for geographical, political, or security reasons, as Yemen is the missing rib of the GCC. We have seen how neglecting Yemen led to the opening of a military front against Saudi Arabia, and those who believe that Riyadh is the only target are mistaken, as the issue is greater than this by far.
The existence of a Gulf development bank would also unite political efforts, as it is not logical for the GCC to announce its support of Yemen, for example, while one Gulf state undertakes actions or efforts in opposition to what every other Gulf state is doing. The other issue is that this bank would counteract a threatening problem in the region, which is the Iranian money that is seeping into our Gulf states under various pretexts and flimsy excuses. Therefore the development bank would counteract this, and protect the countries of the region from infiltration, provided that there is a mechanism, i.e. that the bank has authority in its operations, and ensures the optimal usage of its funds.
I am convinced that this is a very important proposal, and it may evolve to become the real financial arm of the GCC states, so that for every amount of Gulf money spent [there is] a real price. Therefore a proposal such as this deserves to be dealt with quickly, not merely referred for study, as the term “referred for study” in the Arab mentality means to bury the project.
As noted above, Yemen is the best example of the GCC states’ need for financial intervention, as well as political intervention, in order to save what can be saved in Yemen, and to save our countries from the danger of what is going on there.