The 32nd Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit on December 19, 2011 produced agreement among the members — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE — to explore development of a single entity for the GCC, based on a proposal from King Abdullah to “transition from the stage of cooperation to the stage of the Union,” according to the final communique. Two weeks earlier Prince Turki Al Faisal, Chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies and a former ambassador to the U.S., provided a framework for Gulf unity in his remarks at the “Gulf and the Globe” conference in Riyadh. Prince Turki is not currently a member of the government but his frequent speeches and comments on foreign affairs are often interpreted as reflecting inside thinking:
“The strategic importance of our region, geographically and in natural resources, for the world, and one must not minimize that importance, is not in itself the guarantee that will keep it untouched by the strategic tumults around us nor will it keep it from the rivalry between the powers that are vying to expand their influence in it and to tap its natural resources. We must not remain mortgaged to changing international policies and victims of diplomatic bargains. We must, however, be forceful actors in all the global engagements that affect our region and not allow the choices of others to be imposed on us because we are militarily weak and are, therefore, followers of others. This imposes on us, as the primary actors, to realize our unity of purpose in our diplomacy, economics, security and the military. We have to transform our recognition of this reality into dynamic action until we achieve our aims.”
On Saturday [Apr 28, 2012] a speech by Prince Saud Al Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, was presented by deputy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, at a major conference in Riyadh. In it he called on the GCC states to move to “a phase of union with full integration of key affairs to give greater impetus and strength to the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.” The speech comes just weeks before the 14th Consultative Meeting of GCC leaders is scheduled to review the progress and recommendations of a special commission set up to examine the unification proposals.
Today we provide for your consideration remarks of Prince Saud Al Faisal made Saturday at the meeting of the ‘The Conference of Gulf Youth, Arab Gulf States From Cooperation to Union,’ organized by the Institute for Diplomatic Studies and summarized by the Saudi Press Agency. We suggest you refer to the SUSRIS Special Section titled, “Gulf Union,” for more articles and reference materials on this important topic.
Riyadh, Jumada II 7, 1433, Apr 28, 2012, SPA –
On behalf of Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Chairman of the Institute of Diplomatic Studies, Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs opened here today ‘The Conference of Gulf Youth, Arab Gulf States From Cooperation to Union,’ organized by the Institute for Diplomatic Studies.
Addressing the Conference, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs said in a speech delivered on his behalf by Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, ‘Our guests, Gulf youth, our conference is held at a time when most of the attention of the leaders, and decision-makers, and thinkers is to look after how to face current challenges and developments at political, social, economic arenas, and their effects on our countries and peoples. The escalation of confrontation between Iran and the international community over its nuclear program, its constant provocation of GCC countries in particular, continued sufferings of the Palestinian people, and the implications of what is happing in a number of countries in the region of wide political changes in the context of what has become known as the ‘Arab spring’, all these developments require us to pause for reflection and a strong will to deal with them in the interest of GCC states, the unity of their territories, territorial integrity, civil peace, stability and growth.
He added, ‘These threats of all kinds require the hard works of the GCC countries to shift from a current formula of cooperation to a union formula acceptable to the six countries that ensures their security, stability and durability of the economy in view of what Arab Gulf region enjoys of great importance due to its important strategic location and its possession of large reserves of oil and gas, which are the most important sources of energy in the world, in addition to increasing challenges and risks faced by the Arab Gulf, as well as the experiences of the former crises and challenges which proved to everyone that it is hard to deal individually by the Cooperation Council for the Arab Gulf States with those crises.
Prince Saudi said, ‘In the midst of what is surrounding GCC States of the developments, changes and threats to their stability, security and achievements, Saudi Arabia recognized the importance of the transition from one formula of cooperation to the Union formula. This is the Union initiative called for by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in his opening address to the 32nd GCC summit in Riyadh.
He added, ‘GCC’s positive response was reflected by the adoption of the GCC summit of the initiative formally, and also reflected in the degree of interest in this proposal and the start of the procedures for its implementation, through the formation of a joint study commission, agreement on the mechanisms of action and forwarding the results to the next consultative summit.
Prince Saud Al-Faisal said ‘Our guests, our GCC youth, no doubt that the march of integration and cooperation of the GCC States is a successful experience at both the Arab and Muslim levels. The survival of the Council itself, its achievement of numerous accomplishments and its tackling of many challenges indicate the strength of the GCC, but the shift to the status of union would give greater impetus to the march of the GCC, and gives the GCC countries more weightage and standing compatible with their elements of soft power, material resources and geo-strategic importance.’
He also asserted that the GCC union if achieved will lead to big gains for the benefit of our peoples. In the area of foreign policy, the existence of a GCC supreme body coordinating foreign policy decisions will collectively rearrange priorities of these countries realizing their collective interests. When the six GCC states collectively negotiate with other states in a federal structure, this will strengthen the bargaining power of our countries in a way that cannot be provided by the individual move which is void of tools of collective pressure.
In the area of defense, the defense integration is a key guarantee to the security of the GCC states as an alternative to the defense policy based on temporary alliances of passing interests as those alliances remain linked to those interests which inherently are variable. Defense integration will be a prelude to security coordination.
In the economic field, the union of the type sought, will make the GCC countries a powerful economic bloc with a GDP in 2011 reaching more than US $1.4 trillion and a single market strength of 42 million people.
Prince Saud Al-Faisal highlighted the importance of the youth in societies saying that more than 65% of the total population of our countries are under the age of 30 years.
On SUSRIS.com and SUSRISblog.com
- 32nd GCC Summit Final Statement and Riyadh Declaration – SUSRIS – Dec 21, 2011
- GCC Summit Issues Final Communique – WAM – Dec 21, 2011
- Gulf States Seek Stability Not Status Quo – Koch – SUSRIS – Dec 4, 2011
- Where do the Saudis Stand? – Patrick Ryan – SUSRIS – Aug 12, 2011
- Emerging Market Focus – GCC Building Blocs – SUSRIS – May 28, 2011
- US-GCC: Despite Political Differences, Strategic Ties Are Strong for Now – SUSRIS – May 17, 2011
- Understanding Saudi Stability and Instability – Cordesman – SURIS – Mar 1, 2011
- King Abdullah Demands End to Syrian “Killing Machine” – Olivia Jones – SUSRISblog – Aug 8, 2011
- A Conversation with Dr. Theodore Karasik of INEGMA on the “Arab Spring” – SUSRIS Exclusive – Aug 1, 2011
- Perspective of a Shura Council Member: The Arab Spring – Al-Kurdi – SUSRIS Exclusive – Apr 25, 2011
In the Media
- Youth meet suggests a strong GCC union – Arab News – Apr 30, 2012
- Time for GCC to Think Big – Abdullah Al Shayji – GulfNews – Apr 30, 2012
- Kingdom calls for GCC to be fully integrated – Arab News – Apr 29, 2012
- Wary of Iran, Saudis seek progress on Gulf union – Reuters – Apr 29, 2012
- Senior Saudi official urges Gulf unity to confront Iran, Arab Spring uprisings – WashPost – Apr 28, 2012
- ‘GCC needs missile plan to counter Iran threat’ – The National – Apr 12, 2012
- Gulf Union Talks Set for Next Month – GulfNews – Apr 10, 2012
- The Price of Union – The Gulf and the Global Economy – The Majalla – Apr 5, 2012
- We’ll overcome obstacles facing joint action: Saud – Saudi Gazette – Mar 8, 2012
- In Theory: Time to Shed Scepticism Over GCC Union – Mohammad Al Asoomi – GulfNews.com – Mar 8, 2012
- Sovereignty a non-issue in planned GCC union – GulfNews.com – Mar 6, 2012
- Saudi flexes Gulf grip with Bahrain ‘union’ plans – AP – Mar 5, 2012
- Gulf union won’t affect any state’s sovereignty – Arab News – Mar 5, 2012
- EU is still a model despite economic crisis – Arab News – Mar 5, 2012
- GCC panel meets to study Gulf Union plan – Arab News – Feb 22, 2012
- The Riyadh Declaration: Seeking a Union in the Shadow of the Arab Uprisings – alakhbar – Dec 23, 2011
- Heads of GCC Assemblies to meet in Jeddah – Arab News – Dec 7, 2011
- Saudi Arabia’s Counter Revolution – Marc Lynch – FP – Aug 10, 2011
- Arab Uprisings: The Saudi Counter-Revolution – Pomeps Briefings 5 – Aug 9, 2011
- Is Saudi Arabia really counter-revolutionary? – F. Gregory Gause, III – Middle East Channel – FP – Aug 9, 2011
- GCC leaders hold their 13th Consultative Meeting – SaudiEmbassy.net – May 11, 2011
- Gulf bloc to consider Jordan, Morocco membership – Reuters – May 10, 2011
- Jordan, Morocco to get GCC aid – AlBawaba – Sep 13, 2011
- Morocco and Jordan ask to Join GCC – The National – May 11, 2011
- Saudi counter-revolution cools Arab Spring – Aljazeera – Apr 24, 2011
- The Arab Spring and the Saudi Counter-Revolution – The Race for Iran – Apr 16, 2011
- The Saudi Counter-Revolution – Alistair Crooke – Huffington Post – Mar 31, 2011
Special Sections – 2011 -
- Feb 21, 2012 – Study panel meets to discuss a Gulf Union [Link]
- Dec 19-20 32nd GCC Summit – Riyadh Declaration announces “Adoption of the initiative of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to move beyond the stage of cooperation to the stage of union so that the GCC countries form a single entity to achieve good and repel evil in response to the aspirations of the citizens of GCC countries and the challenges they face.” [Link]
- Sep 2011 – Ministers from Jordan and Morocco attend GCC meeting that puts forward a five-year economic plan for those countries. [Link]
- May 10, 2011 – GCC Summit in Riyadh – GCC is considering requests from Morocco and Jordan to join the organization. [Link]
- Apr 1, 2011 – Abdulatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani of Bahrain becomes 5th GCC Secretary General
- Nov 11, 1981 – A unified economic agreement is signed among the GCC states in Abu Dhabi.
- May 25, 1981 – The Gulf Cooperation Council is founded consisting of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE