Arab Gulf Union Council – What’s in a Name?

March 8, 2012

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), an association of six Gulf Arab countries including Saudi Arabia and established in 1981, introduced the idea of bringing Jordan and Morocco into the organization last May. In December at the 32nd GCC Summit King Abdullah introduced an initiative to move the GCC to a “single entity,” a proposal that was approved and announced in the “Riyadh Declaration.”

Last month a Gulf Commission was called to start working on the unification proposal.  Three representatives from each member state — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE — took up the initiative in a meeting that included GCC officials and several former GCC secretaries general.  The opening session was chaired by Saudi Arabian minister of state Dr. Musaed Bin Mohammed Al-Alban, according to an Arab News report.  GCC Secretary General Abdullateef Al-Zayani noted that political unification would be preceded by full economic integration and that the final product would be a single entity capable of handling strategic issues as a “union.”  Zayani commented, “Significant progress toward regional integration has already been achieved since the GCC was established.”  The GCC consultative committee announced yesterday its recommendation that the new confederation be named “The Arab Gulf Union Council.”

Last month SUSRIS shared a briefing prepared by Nawaf Obaid, King Faisal Center for Islamic Studies and Research Senior Fellow, providing a tour of the new landscape Saudi Arabia was operating in “post ‘Arab Spring’.” In it he addressed what he called the “New Gulf Union:”

  • Saudi Arabia is leading the creation of a bloc of like-minded states to ensure security, stability and prosperity;
  • Members include current GCC states: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, Oman, and Qatar; with the possibility of Jordan and Morocco joining at a later date;
  • Modeled on the EU, the “Gulf Confederation” will be a political, economic, and military alliance with it’s “capital” in Riyadh;
  • The union’s decision-making body (modeled on the European Commission in Brussels) will replace the current GCC Secretariat;
  • Elements of the union will be phased in over the next five years.

***

“The GCC as an organization has emerged as one of the big winners of the changes of 2011. As an organization, the GCC has become indispensible, has become so much a vehicle for group thinking and group acting for the six GCC states on military level and diplomatic level, and all levels that you can think of, and hence the GCC has emerged as a big winner. And I think it’s now becoming a replacement even for the Arab League. It’s taken the lead on almost all issues.. ..So the GCC has proven itself to be needed more than any other time in its thirty-year history. And I think that all the GCC states appreciate now how important this GCC has become.

Dr. Abdulkhaleq Abdulla – Professor of Political Science, Emirates University – Arab-US Policymakers Conference 2011

***

Today we present a summary of recent activities, in the form of several articles, on the road to a “single entity” among the GCC plus Morocco and Jordan and announce the creation of a SUSRIS special section to compile reference material and resources on this important topic.

***

***

Panel suggests new name for GCC

March 8, 2012

The GCC consultative committee met here yesterday and proposed to change the name of Gulf Cooperation Council to Arab Gulf Union Council. Muhammad Al-Rasheed, chairman of the committee, proposed the new name and hoped the new move would speed up integration of GCC states.

He commended Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for making his proposal at the last GCC summit to transform the council into a powerful union to confront growing challenges.

The GCC leaders have instructed the consultative committee to study a new strategy for youths, ways to enhance the spirit of citizenship, a strategy for employment in the public and private sectors, formation of a united commission for civil aviation, tackling noncontagious diseases and a GCC confederation.

He commended the committee for conducting studies on global warming, climate change, unification of efforts in translation and Arabization, promoting the Arabic language and alternative energy resources.

He thanked GCC leaders for appointing him chairman of the committee. He commended the achievements made by the committee in the past, adding that some of its proposals have already been implemented.

Al-Rasheed emphasized the need to implement the resolutions taken by the Supreme GCC Council as many of them are still awaiting execution.

He referred to the stormy developments in the Arab world and urged the committee to provide the GCC leaders with necessary advice to reinforce security and stability in member countries.

“Security and stability cannot be achieved without unity. King Abdullah has emphasized this point during the last summit,” he said.

“Transforming the GCC into a union is not a luxury. It is essential for our success. Past and present events have proved that we cannot achieve safety and security without unity and without standing together firmly against potential dangers,” Al-Rasheed told the committee.

“We should consider any danger affecting a member country as a danger for all members and work together to confront it. We should also strengthen the organizations that serve all member countries.”

He stressed the need for establishing economic, political, security and military organizations to strengthen the GCC’s integration process.

Abdullateef Al-Zayani, secretary-general of the GCC, congratulated Al-Rasheed as well as vice president of the committee Sheikha Mariyam bint Hassan Al-Khalifa for winning the confidence of GCC leaders.

Source: Arab News

***

Gulf union won’t affect any state’s sovereignty: Riyadh

March 8, 2012

RIYADH: Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal yesterday highlighted the importance of transforming the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council into a powerful union and pointed out that the move would not affect the sovereignty of any member country.

Addressing a meeting of GCC foreign ministers here, Prince Saud said Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah proposed the GCC union project during the last summit considering its significance in order to confront growing challenges.

“The union will not affect the sovereignty of any member country… and will not be used as a medium to interfere in their internal affairs. It aims at formulating effective bodies enjoying flexibility and speed and the ability to execute policies and programs,” he said.

He said the new union would strengthen GCC cooperation in political, security, military and economic affairs. He stressed the need to remove all obstacles that stand in the way of greater GCC integration.

Prince Saud noted the important role played by GCC countries in dealing with new developments in the Arab world. He said a new government came to power in Sanaa as a result of the GCC initiative.

He urged Arab countries to avoid plunging into internal conflicts. “We should understand the hopes and aspirations of people to live with honor and freedom and keep away from applying oppressive policies,” he added.

Source: Arab News

***

EU is still a model despite economic crisis

By FATIMA SIDIYA | ARAB NEWS STAFF

March 5, 2012

JEDDAH: Panelists at the second session on the first day of the three-day Jeddah Economic Forum 2012 yesterday called for the creation of international and regional blocs that can support economies. Despite the experience in EU, there is still scope for new international blocs as they could work faster than world organizations to implement quick measures for economic advancement, speakers said. They also focused on the potentials that the newly announced GCC federation could offer to the region.

The session entitled “Building Blocs: A Global Refocus on Models of Regional Cooperation” was moderated by Riz Khan, former CNN, television news reporter and interviewer.

Speakers said that countries hoping to progress need to go into blocs. Any country that hopes to stand-alone will be left out of the flow. Challenges facing countries that have membership in different economic blocs as a result of differences or clashes about the procedures or rules in different blocs were also mentioned.

Ambassador Vanu Gopala Menon, deputy secretary for Asia-Pacific, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Singapore, told a press conference that more unity among different countries in the same geographical area need to be encouraged. This will ease economic measures unlike international organizations that take time to implement rules.

According to Menon, it is not correct to neglect the economic changes in the West when thinking east. Asia has contributed in the revival of the European economies, he emphasized, adding: “The new strength is coming from the east.”

The new GCC Federation has been created due to security concerns, said Abdulaziz Sager, chairman, Gulf Research Centre, Switzerland/Saudi Arabia. He elaborated while answering a question from the audience that four factors also contributed to the creation of the federation: The delay in implementing the previously agreed GCC rules, the economic differences among the GCC countries, and the strong ties linking families ruling these states.

The federation, he said, is still facing challenges that will be discussed and modified. “The concept of the federation need to be promoted among the GCC people.”

Answering a question whether China, the world’s second biggest economy, is looking to become a world political power, he said: “China has domestic issues that it needs to tackle. It’s still not ready to take this step.”

Speaking about China’s political importance, Ambassador Muhamad Noor Yacob, executive director APEC Secretariat, said: “China has always adopted a defensive role rather than an offensive one.

Yacob explained that some of the new products manufactured in the east had their ideas originating in the West. This proved that companies have adopted themselves to meeting the global requirement.

Later, addressing a press conference, Yacob said: “We are taking measures to make investment easy, knowing that investors are dragged to places that have high technologies, manpower at less costs, and easy for investors to get in.

As the EU policies came in for criticism in an earlier session, as they resulted in the economic crisis, John Bruton, EU ambassador to the United States and previously the Irish prime minister, said that EU continues to remain an example and model as an economic union.

Bruton added that the crisis has also been a result of the increasing number of retiring people, which in some EU countries could be 1 out of every 3 workers. “We accept these criticisms, there have been mistakes and we are working on a reform.”

Source: Arab News

***

Related Items:

Gulf Union – SUSRIS Special Section

Timeline

  • Feb 21, 2012 – Study panel meets to discuss a Gulf Union [Link]
  • Dec 19-20 32nd GCC Summit – Riyadh Declaration announces “Adoption of the initiative of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to move beyond the stage of cooperation to the stage of union so that the GCC countries form a single entity to achieve good and repel evil in response to the aspirations of the citizens of GCC countries and the challenges they face.” [Link]
  • Sep 2011 – Ministers from Jordan and Morocco attend GCC meeting that puts forward a five-year economic plan for those countries.
  • May 10, 2011 – GCC Summit in Riyadh – GCC is considering requests from Morocco and Jordan to join the organization. [Link]
  • Apr 1, 2011 – Abdulatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani of Bahrain becomes 5th GCC Secretary General
  • Nov 11, 1981 – A unified economic agreement is signed among the GCC states in Abu Dhabi.
  • May 25, 1981 – The Gulf Cooperation Council is founded consisting of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE

Previous post:

Next post: