37th GCC Summit
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) recently held its 37th summit in Manama without any surprises, especially with relation to the GCC union project, which reflects lack of unanimous integrated visions at the time being, despite media enthusiasm and the support provided by some political figures and blocs in some member states, including Kuwait, to such media campaigns. The summit settled for taking the traditional attitudes towards many regional and international issues and emphasizing member states’ cooperation in various fields.
Hesitancy about declaring the GCC union, regardless of its form and suggested legal or political structure, remains the wisest and most balanced option at this stage because the infrastructure for regional integration is still immature, be it on economic level as for the unified currency or the joint market, or in terms of diversifying sources of income, in addition to transport links and land and sea connections amongst GCC brothers, though some of these projects, like the railway line, is underway.
Politically speaking and despite agreeing on many issues amongst GCC capitals, attitudes are still diverse and relatively different towards some major regional and international issues including the situation in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and most recently Egypt, in addition to Iran. The US presidential election results made the situation more complicated. In addition, Oman’s attitude, in particular, towards many of these issues might prevent the establishment of a full GCC union or make it prematurely born, which might create a great deal of embarrassment to such a long journey.
On the other hand, any project to declare the establishment of a regional union upon security concerns alone would be more like a reaction to some of the hot issues mentioned above, including what most GCC states consider as Iranian provocative acts. It might also direct member states towards adopting solid political tools and make accelerating decisions at the expense of completing the infrastructure needed for more economic and cultural conformity. Many similar pacts made as reactions to mere security or political situations could not hold for long and were doomed to failure, such as the Arab Maghreb Union, Warsaw Pact, Baghdad Pact and the Arab Cooperation Council.
GCC integration must be made upon well-studied foundations stemming from peoples’ wills and aspirations, in addition to the challenges GCC states are facing in terms of sustainable human development, diversifying economies and activating the role of GCC diplomacy in making friends, which will make any future unity project be well-made in a promising way.
— Translated by Kuwait Times