Long on hope
The GCC must play a more active role in the region. Doaa El-Bey sees what observers have in mind
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) held its annual summit in Abu Dhabi this week. The first meeting was held in the same city 25 years ago. Analysts said that it was an achievement in itself to remain united for a quarter of a century, but also agreed that the council should play a more active and effective role.
Reviewing the data of the 25 summit meetings held thus far, Abdul-Rahman Al-Rashed wrote that the previous meetings had witnessed very ambitious plans for cooperation but little in the way of achievements. He said that delegates at this two-day summit were busy with Iran's nuclear programme, the crisis in Iraq, the Syrian- Lebanese conflict and the Israeli occupation. "Internal issues should be regarded as marginal, however, establishing a joint customs system among the Gulf states is more important than the Palestinian issue; setting up a joint electricity network is more important than Iraq, and cooperation in the field of manpower is a more pressing issue than the Syrian-Lebanese conflict," Al-Rashed wrote in the Saudi London-based Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday.
Talal Saleh Banan wrote in the Saudi daily Okaz on Monday that in international politics nowadays, the state cannot maintain its security, preserve its interests and face internal environmental, political, social and economic problems unless it joins a coalition with other states that share the same circumstances. However, Banan questioned why, after 25 years, the Gulf states had failed to reap some or all of the fruits of cooperation, and why the expectations are more than the achievements. "One can hardly see any change in the approach of the member states to development, security or external politics since the establishment of the GCC," Banan wrote.
Gamil Al-Ziabi wrote of a confidence crisis between the GCC and its citizens. "These GCC summits reach resolutions that are usually postponed," he told Al-Hayat on Monday.
Al-Ziabi pinned all hope on a dynamic young man who has clear objectives, somebody who can play a more active role in the GCC to bridge the gap between the Gulf states and achieve the ambitions of the people.
Following the recent developments in Iran, Abdul-Wahab Badrakhan wrote in Al-Hayat on Monday that there is a dire need for a third party that can resolve the problem between Iran and the US. "This party is the GCC. It can open channels of dialogue with the US, Europe and Iran in order to create a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction. After all, the Gulf and Arab states are facing the danger of not only Iran's nuclear programme but that of the Israeli nuclear arsenal as well."
Abdul-Aziz Bin Othman Bin Saqr suggested that the GCC can participate in talks that the European Union is holding with Iran regarding Tehran's nuclear programme. "The participation of the GCC became vital after the talks reached a dead end. The Gulf states are more likely to be affected by the negative impact of Iran's nuclear programme given that some states are just 40 nautical miles away from the Iranian border," Bin Saqr wrote in Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday.
In the United Arab Emirates' Al-Ittihad daily on Monday, Abdullah Bin Bigad Al-Utaibi called on Gulf leaders to work to activate the role of the GCC in order to try to confront external and internal challenges.
He wrote that the GCC needed to adopt a more effective and stricter stand on Iran which is trying to develop weapons of mass destruction.
Al-Utaibi also wrote on other challenges facing the GCC including the volatile situation in Iraq and the possible division of that neighbouring state, in addition to terrorism "which is threatening all Gulf citizens". He stressed the importance of addressing domestic problems like development, water and education.
Aisha Al-Morri wrote that lack of security is one of the reasons that impeded the achievement of the main objectives of the GCC -- "coordination, cooperation and integration that could lead to unity among member states." Al-Morri attributed the lack of security to three factors, firstly bilateral security agreements that each state signed with the US. "The countries gave up joint Gulf security agreements in favour of bilateral agreements with the US," she wrote in Al-Ittihad on Monday. The second factor is the unstable situation in Iraq which is reflected on the neighbouring Gulf states. The third is Iran and its nuclear aspirations.
Al-Rashed ascribed the inability of the GCC to make an impact to political conflicts and mismanagement. "Differences among member states postponed the signing of a joint security agreement and blocked the use of ID cards instead of passports when travelling between member states," he wrote in Asharq Al-Awsat on Sunday.
Al-Rashed suggested that GCC member states should declare each year a year for concluding a certain project. "If so, then they can all work towards the project. If one state or more is opposed they can be exempted as is what happened in the European Union."