London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The annual summit of members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) concluded in Kuwait on Wednesday with members agreeing to create a joint military command and police force, despite warnings from Oman that it will not take part in attempts to forge a closer union.
The final communiqué of the summit said: “The Supreme Council agreed on the establishment of the joint military command [for] the GCC member states and assigned the Joint Defense Council to take necessary measures to put this agreement into effect according to the relevant studies.”
However, it did not go into detail as to how the command would be organized. A joint military force, known as the Peninsula Shield, was set up in 1984, but it is unclear how this will interact with the new joint command.
The communiqué also welcomed the interim agreement reached between Iran and six world powers in Geneva in November over the former’s controversial nuclear program, though it also expressed reservations about Iran’s efforts to expand its nuclear power program.
Reading from the communiqué at the conclusion of the two-day summit, GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif Al-Zayani said: “The council expressed concern regarding announcements over plans to build more nuclear reactors on the banks of the Gulf that threaten the environmental system and water security.”
The GCC, which consists of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar, was founded in 1981 in order to strengthen economic, political and defense co-operation among the Arab monarchies of the Gulf in the wake of the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and the outbreak of the Iran–Iraq War in 1980.
The summit has been overshadowed to some extent by a public split between Oman and Saudi Arabia, with Saudi officials calling for a deeper and closer union between the six members of the organization, and Oman expressing its opposition prior to the meeting.
Speaking to reporters from the AFP news agency over the weekend, Omani foreign minister Yusuf Bin Alawi Bin Abdullah said: “We will not prevent a union, but if it happens we will not be part of it.”
“We do not want to be part of the GCC union as it is not feasible to us,” he added. “We just can’t do it. There are other important issues that require to be addressed such as economic integration that will bring prosperity to its people and [the] unemployment issue.
“The perception that GCC countries face imminent threat is myopic.”
Speaking at the same security conference in Bahrain, former Saudi diplomat and intelligence chief Prince Turki Al-Faisal said: “Oman has every right to express that view. I don’t think that is going to prevent the union from happening.”
He added: “Having a more closely knit union between the GCC countries in my view is inevitable and whether Oman wants to join now, or later, that’s up to them.”
Analysts say that despite Saudi insistence on pressing ahead, moves to forge closer links along the lines of the European Union are likely to be met with reluctance from other members. A previous attempt to introduce a single currency was abandoned in 2010 over disagreements between Saudi Arabia and the UAE over the location of the headquarters of the new central bank.