Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Will the Arab Gulf form a union? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, spoke to the leadership of the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] on the necessity for the GCC moving from cooperation to union; but will the GCC accept this? Do the GCC member states understand the importance of such a union? Reality shows, since the Arab earthquake, or what has been dubbed the Arab Spring, that the sole remaining towering structure in our region is that of the GCC. This is despite all the destabilization attempts to undermine some GCC states, like what happened in Bahrain, instigated by Iran, not to mention the systematic campaigns of incitements targeting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Therefore, the Gulf union is not a luxury, but rather this is an urgent security, economic, and political necessity; this is a question of existence and survival, for all GCC states, particularly as the danger that is threatening the GCC originates from a single source, namely Iran. There is also the threat of chaos that is striking the rest of the Arab states, and everything that will follow this with regards to the expected political immaturity on the part of some. We must remember the storm that accompanied the Gamal Abdul Nasser era in Egypt, and ask ourselves what will the situation be like today, when we are seeing political storms such as this in a number of countries? This is not to mention what the region at large is facing with regards to the threats of terrorism, financial chaos, and more.

Therefore, the GCC states forming a union is a necessity and not a luxury; this is something that does not require the formation of committees and meetings [to study this proposal] and other time-wasting, rather what is required today – more than at any time before – is an awareness of the danger that is surrounding the GCC from every direction, and on a number of different levels. This requires awareness and level-headedness, and for the GCC states to move away from [political] point-scoring, or let us say political haggling. This has become an open secret in the Gulf, namely that sometimes GCC projects fail because of unjustified competition, either politically or economically or over other less important things. In the event of the GCC states becoming aware of the danger that is surrounding them, they will find themselves in need of a genuine union, and greater influence than that afforded by an organization that holds committees that could take years [to make a decision]. The GCC states are currently facing genuine danger, and the greatest threat in this regard is their lack of clarity regarding a vision for the future! We do not know what direction the situation in Iraq is moving towards, particularly as the political process there is under threat after al-Maliki has become the new dictator of Iraq, whilst we are all aware that Iraq today has become the new Syria in the eyes of Iran. There is also ambiguity regarding the situation in Egypt and Libya, whilst the situation in Yemen is only holding together thanks to Gulf involvement, and we still don’t know what the future holds for the country. There is also Syria, and the destructive role being played by Iran there; in addition to all this there is also the international economic situation, and a long list of causes for concern about our future.

All of this calls for the Gulf States to take similar – although not necessary uniform – policies and decisions, for our security is under threat, as is our oil sector, and our people. The Gulf States are different from other countries in the region as they are practically the only ones that are the same today as they were yesterday [prior to the Arab Spring], and that is because they are concerned about citizenship and state building, despite any flaws and shortcomings.

Therefore, the Gulf union is an urgent and logical requirement, not a luxury, but the question that must be asked here is: are the GCC states aware of the danger that surrounds them, or will they continue wasting time and opportunities, all the while this danger increases?