Dubai, Asharq al-Awsat- The economic aspect concerning the announcement of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s [GCC] admission of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to its membership will be the subject of broad analysis and interest in the coming period since the GCC always seeks to develop and strengthen its economic endeavors. However, the more pressing aspect of this expansion is the political one. The controversial stands of neighboring Iran are a source of concern for the GCC countries, particularly since Iran only recognized the GCC recently. Some believe that any kind of Arab-Gulf rapprochement, particularly Gulf-Gulf rapprochement, is a source of concern for Iran. Jordan’s accession to the GCC and the invitation to Morocco to join are sources of concern for Iran.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Khalid Abu al-Aynayn, the former commander of the UAE forces, says that Iran did not recognize the GCC except recently in Ahmadinejad’s era, adding that: “Nevertheless, any Arab cooperation, specifically Gulf-Gulf cooperation, is upsetting to Iran. Iran has short-range and long-range ambitions and this solidarity, integration, and union among the Gulf leaders, as well as the planning will arouse Iran’s anxiety”.
Abu al-Aynayn went on to say that Iran takes reserved stands on such steps although this step is not aimed at anyone “especially if we take into consideration the fact that from the military angle, there will be no problem related to the military balance between Iran and the Gulf countries if Jordan joins. Everyone knows Iran’s military capabilities”. The former commander points out that there has always been cooperation between the GCC and Jordan: “Joint military exercises on the logistics, operational, and strategic levels have been conducted in the past. No doubt, this has been of huge benefit to all the parties. Military exercises with Jordan have been held over the past eight years. Jordan also participates in peace and security keeping efforts. There has always been interaction with the Gulf countries”.
Regarding the issue of counterterrorism, Abu al-Aynayn says that there is coordination with all the Arab countries. There is no border problem between Saudi Arabia and Jordan as is the case on the border between Saudi Arabia and Iraq: “There is good cooperation and exchange of information. This has helped in foiling attempts to destabilize security in the past”. He points out that the Gulf countries have benefited from the expertise of Jordanian officers for the past 15 years. He adds, however, that “at present, there is self-sufficiency in each member state and self-reliance on local officers”. The former UAE military official goes on to say: “I believe that this admission has economic dimensions. It will reinforce the integration of an Arab organization leading to economic integration and exchange of information. The issue is not confined only to the security angle”.
On his part, Abdulaziz Saqr, chairman of the Gulf Center for Strategic Studies, says that Jordan’s request to join the GCC is not new. There are still some difficulties obstructing Jordan’s full admission to the GCC. He expects the issue to be confined to coordinating committees on specific aspects. Saqr says that there are many difficulties on the road to Jordan’s admission to the GCC. “Therefore,” he adds, “I do not believe that there will be a rush on this issue”.