09 November 2016
By GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN
RIYADH: Heads of state of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will hold their high-profile summit in Bahrain next month to address critical regional conditions that have prompted the Gulf nations to reposition themselves with an aim to boost their capabilities to ensure peace and security in the Middle East region.
The GCC summit will be held during the first week of December. On the sidelines of the summit, British Prime Minister Theresa May is scheduled to meet the GCC leaders and discuss UK-GCC partnerships in several areas, including security and the economy.
“A formal announcement regarding the date of the summit and its agenda will be made by the GCC foreign ministers next week,” said Ahmed Al-Kabi, a spokesman of the GCC General Secretariat, here Tuesday.
Moreover, the GCC leaders, according to reports, are likely to discuss the whole range of regional and international issues including terrorism, closer economic cooperation, and the situations in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Palestine. The Saudi proposal to transform the GCC into a “Gulf Union,” that calls for solidarity among the Gulf states, is likely to top the summit’s agenda.
The Kingdom made the proposal in 2011 to establish the Gulf Union, a powerful regional bloc with unified economic policies, joint military operations and homogenous political policies common to all member states. To this end, Bahraini Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa said that “the Gulf Union is an inevitable goal of the summit.”
“The formation of the Gulf Union is essential to address security problems and economic challenges, as well as other serious issues confronted by the region,” said Al-Khalifa in a report published by Ashraq Al-Awsat, a sister publication of Arab News, on Monday. Asked about the date and agenda of the summit, Al-Kabi said that “the GCC foreign ministers will hold a preparatory meeting in Manama next week, and they will be making announcements in this regard.”
It was not immediately known whether Jordan and Morocco, who were invited to join the GCC, will be attending the summit. But it is important to mention that the GCC has renewed their support for Morocco and opposed any move that threatens Morocco’s sovereignty, in reference to the Western Sahara dispute. The two-day gathering will be the 37th meeting since the GCC’s formation in 1981.