Friday, May 11, 2012

GCC Arabs to Discuss Union

Monday Meeting Faces Obstacles to Form Political Union

The heads of the Arab states of the Persian Gulf will meet on Monday to discuss formation of a proposed “GCC Arab Union” in response to what they perceive as growing threats from Iran and the changing political environment after the recent Arab uprisings.

Saudi Arabia is already expected to announce a union with Bahrain whose own monarchy is being threatened by a rising popular discontent. But the further expansion of such union would faces immense challenges. The smaller GCC states fear domination by Saudi Arabia.

Qatar in particular does not want to lose its newly found status of a rich country, rapidly being developed, and increasingly asserting itself as a serious player in regional and Arab politics. This is the country that has founded Al Jazeera, the most watched news network in the Arab world and one of the best in the world, acted aggressively and triumphantly in Libya and is now, along with the Saudis, leading the Arab world to isolate Assad’s regime in Syria. A membership in a GCC Arab Union might bring an end to the independence required to be as active and carry such projects.

On Monday, the GCC (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman) might instead form consultative commissions to coordinate foreign and defense policies, without diluting their national sovereignty.

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