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The essence of a Gulf union

July 03, 2014 - 5:08:46 am

In the beginning of the past century, Nicolas Craf Clergy, a senior politician, came up with a plan whereby European unity would be achieved in four stages. 

In the first stage, preparations would be made and a conference held to explain and stress the importance of having faith in unity and an alliance between European countries. 

In the second stage, a treaty would be signed to establish a binding system or body for arbitration, which European countries would resort to in order to resolve their disputes. In the third stage, a customs union would take effect. In the last stage, a European constitution would be drafted and adopted.  

All these ideas seem to be just luxuries that cannot be suggested or used for interaction between the ruling authority, elites, institutions and people when the issue of Gulf unity is raised. The meaning of a Gulf union has not been agreed upon and it has no place in the political dictionary of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

It seems that the media campaign launched against Qatar in the beginning of this year failed because of public bitterness over the withdrawal of three ambassadors from the country — an unprecedented move in the history of the GCC.    

There are real disputes between GCC countries. They can no longer be covered up or dealt with behind closed doors. These disputes, according to Ghanem Al Naggar, professor of political science in Kuwait University, are in general about a sense of insecurity within the system, border disputes, and regional and international alliances becoming more important than the internal unity of the council. As a result, mistrust among GCC countries has grown.

Al Naggar suggests that if officials in the council want its continuity for the sake of “necessary formalities”, they must address fear and mistrust among the council’s member states, rearrange borders in a just and “brotherly” way, and then start implementing an intensive programme to rebuild trust.

The GCC countries must then start acting collectively to achieve joint security by enhancing and developing ruling systems that are open and connected to the people,  else the council, whether it survives or ceases to be,  would be merely about redundant or incomplete figures.

Ahmed Al Saadon, a former speaker of the Kuwaiti National Assembly, has said: “We deceive ourselves if we say we can establish a real union between Gulf countries without the need for concessions from the political systems to the people of the region”.

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