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Persian Gulf Cooperation Council; demise of an Arab union

Tehran� Recent developments in the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council and Saudi Arabia's inability to ally other members in the Council to confront Qatar, have raised the prospect for the demise of the regional intergovernmental Arab union.

Some observers are even of the view that with Riyadh and Abu Dhabi mulling over promoting joint cooperation, the six-member Persian Gulf Arab state union seems to be on the threshold of disintegration.

The Persian Gulf Cooperation Council brought together Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates in 1981 under a political and economic bloc.

The main aim behind its creation, however, was fostering cooperation among Arab capitals to address the so-called Iran influence in the region.

The 38th meeting of the Council took place on December 5 in Kuwait, despite differences among members about the timing of the event and the urgency of such a meeting. But the level of participants in the meeting was indicative of wide rifts among them.

Unlike previous meetings, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Bahrain participated at foreign minister and deputy foreign minister levels, respectively and only Qatar and Kuwait attended the meeting at high state levels.

On the other hand, the past six months have seen clear alignments shaping among members of the Arab League in yet another sign pointing to the widening rifts among members of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council.

The story began when the UAE and Bahrain joined Saudi Arabia to accuse Qatari leaders of supporting extremist and terrorist groups and put the country under severe sanctions. This is while, Kuwait and Oman remain to follow a moderate policy towards Doha. And the growing division among members was quite obvious during the Council's December meeting in Kuwait: the meeting originally planned to continue for two days to address the ongoing dispute over Qatar ties, wrapped up just after one hour and a half when Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah closed the meeting due diplomatic differences over relations with Doha. But the decision to end the meeting was made following the announcement by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia about signing of a separate cooperation deal.

Apparently, the Council no longer yields the required effectiveness for the Saudis. So, Riyadh is after replacing the bloc with a new and smaller union that will follow to achieve more specific goals to guarantee interests of the new Saudi leaders.

The announcement by the UAE on the establishment of a joint commission between Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, just hours before the start of the PGCC meeting, was a clear message to the those members of the Council, in particular Kuwait, that had failed to stand by Saudi Arabia in its heavy-handed confrontation with Qatar.

Unlike the Saudis attempts to put Doha under increasing embargos, the Kuwaiti leaders have been trying over the past six months and since the start of the crisis, to assume the role of a mediator to bring the Arab capitals in the Persian Gulf closer and foster convergence among them.

This tends to be the main reason behind the Saudi tendency to diverge from the Council.

Many observers believe that the policies followed by the new generation of leaders in Saudi Arabia in dealing with Issues in the region bode for nothing but failure.

Moreover, the Saudi attempts to form a parallel bloc to the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council, in order to achieve wider strategic goals, could seriously endanger the Council and it could serve as a beginning to the end of the [P]GCC.

Source: Islamic Republic News Agency


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