Gulf Cooperation Council Forms Union
Photo Credit: AN photo by Khaled Al-Khamees
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) agreed to form a unified military command structure and unified police force after the annual Gulf summit held in Kuwait City, according to Al Arabiya. The decision came during the annual Gulf Summit, during which leaders of GCC member countries also addressed Iran’s nuclear agreement with western powers, Iranian occupation of three UAE islands,and the implementation of the Gulf-brokered power-transition deal in Yemen.
The agreement intends to “protect the six-member council from security threats posed to the region.” Saudi Arabia initially proposed the joint military union in 2011, but due to reservations from several GCC members, the proposal was tabled. Since 2011, “Kuwait and Qatar have since expressed their backing, but the UAE’s position on the proposal is not known.” Bahraini Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa praised the agreement as a key step in constructing a “safe haven” in the Gulf, and described the need for security as “a pressing demand [now] more than ever.” Bahraini Cabinet secretary-general Dr Yaser bin Essa Al Naser released a statement explaining, ”The Cabinet stressed that the challenges the GCC countries are facing confirm the necessity and urgency to establish the GCC union and recognise this as the best strategic option in the face of threats and risks confronting the Gulf states.”
Oman has publicly renounced membership in the union. Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi said Oman “will simply withdraw” from the GCC if the five other members – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar – decide to form a union. Madawi al-Rasheed argued in Al-Monitor that bin Alawi’s statement “came at Saudi Arabia’s worst moment, when both international and regional power shifts are increasingly eroding the Saudi position” and praised Oman for choosing “diplomacy over confrontation in an attempt to maintain its position as an independent player who hesitates to be drawn into other country’s hypothetical wars.” In contrast, Jame El Theyabi argues in Al Hayat that “the Gulf confederation will be much better and safer for Oman, amid growing challenges and successful alliances worldwide” and therefore Oman should join the Gulf confederation “to add to its economic and social growth.”