Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), is a union or association formed for the mutual benefits in between the Middle Eastern Arab oil-exporting countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman except Iran. GCC was set up in on May 1981 in the capital city of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh. It is existed in order attain unity among its members. This was based on their common objectives and common identities which is similar and almost common with respect to their politics and culture and have their basic roots are in Islamic beliefs.
GCC Politics and Governance:
GCC countries own a common Supreme council which is the highest authority of the organization. It sets visions and goals and every member state holds a vote on its acceptance or rejection.
Their Ministerial Council composes of foreign ministers, who are brought together every three months. They formulate policies and make recommendations to promote and achieve cooperation on ongoing projects, which is later submitted to Supreme Council for approvals.
The executive arm of GCC is the Secretariat council. It takes and compiles decisions related to cooperation and coordination and also planning of implementation of the common action. Another role of this Secretariat Council is to prepare a periodical report about the work done by GCC.
The monitorial council was set up in around 2009 whose major objective was to set a common currency among the GCC, which was later announced as a planned withdrawal by UAE and Oman.
Peninsula Sheild force is a military army of GCC which is intended to respond to any of the military aggression among the GCC countries. The Peninsula Sheild Force is composed of armor, infantry, combat, and artillery support bits from each of the GCC countries.
GCC has a Standardization Organization (GSO) whose activities are to develop, coordinate, revise or otherwise produce technical standards for the GCC countries. Its headquarters are in Riyadh while branch office is in Jeddah. Yemen is also a part of GSO.
Gulf Organization for Industrial Consultation (GOIC) mission is to identify, promote and evaluate joint industrial projects in member states. It also runs the industrial programs and conferences.
Role of GCC in the Middle East:
The actual Role of GCC is to strengthen the relationship between the member countries and promote the citizens’ cooperation. Also, its defensive planning council coordinates military cooperation between member countries. It’s also established to formulate similar regulations in education, commerce, custom, social and health affairs, tourism, administration, and legislature. Also, to encourage private sector corporation, GCC plays a very important part in the middle east.
Apart from internal help and support, its also seen to have impact on the surrounding countries specially at the time of their crisis, since its one of the most major finance and aid provider in diffenrt times, like that in yemen syrian or israeili conflicts.
a) YEMEN CRISIS:
The current war in Yemen is due to its political transition failure after 2011 of the Arab uprising. GCC efforted to stabilize it although it remained unsatisfactory. Thus, the instability has strengthened Al- Qaida. GCC considered it as a very poorer state and does not fit into “monarchial peninsula”. Yet due to uneven status, the fact of it being the second largest country in the peninsula, where red sea meets Indian ocean, can’t be ignored.
Yemen relation with GCC has been neglected for many years. It started as a result of the unification of northern Arab Republic of Yemen and Southern state and Socialist People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen after the collapse of USSR. Another dimension is sectarianism – Shia and Sunni. These sector conflicts lead to six wars from 2004-2010 and were undertaken by Qatar mediating efforts. Also, assistance to Yemen in different sectors like education, water and electricity UAE, Qatar and Oman offered contributions but they did not accept it to be a part of GCC until 1996. The main reason for rejection was being Yemen the poorer state, high unemployment and loose borders for weapon militants etc. trafficking. Due to all this, the internal situation started to worsen put accession process far away. On another hand, GCC made Yemen a member of some of its institutions as a solution to the rising conflicts. Yemen remains the only country in which popular protests turned into negotiations to change GCC mediation.
Right now, the most prominent reason for its crisis is the poor living standard, political marginalization, and weak government and more than half of its starving population. The longer the conflict last, the difficult it will be to solve.
The proxy war is also not the cause of the conflict, while the problems leading to violence are still unsolved, leading it to humanitarian crisis.
b) SYRIAN CRISIS:
The Syrian hostilities have created a worst crisis of humanitarian history ever. Half of the country is in pre-war situation either being killed or forced to flee homes, either thy are making new homes in other neighboring counties, or moving to far countries to find acceptance. Their life as a refugee is making a miserable effect on them. But the fact is that millions of the Syrians need help. While just 1 out of 11 are helped so far.
The war begin in march 2011, due to anti- government demonstrations. The peaceful protests rose up to violent crackdowns, armed opposition and groups started to fight back.
Groups got divided into secular and religious teams and between them the conflict continued to get complicated.
Over millions of the Syrian refugees live in GCC, as they are the closest to shelter them. Also, GCC members has made significant contributions to Syrian with respect to finance since their crisis have erupted. But according to the UN rules, they do not recognize the Syrians as refugees and nor give them protection and ability to gain citizenship of host country.
It’s a famous talk that the citizen clause rejection has made GCC open themselves up to the international criticism. However, its applied to everyone ma that be anyone. Although these refugees do not get UN protection from the GCC members, like in case of Saudi Arabia, but it’s quite different as they receive many other protections like free education and healthcare.
Some also suggests that the violence in Syria is fueled by the some GCC stated chiefly Qatar and Saudi Arabia because they had been arming the Sunni Islamic activists (ISIS or IS).
Not all the GCC states are ready to welcome refugees of the Syria, however it’s still an argument under discussion as until how long will they be ready to take in and support the refugees. UAE has recently announced the acceptance, while others have still taken it under consideration.
c) ISRAEILI FACTORS:
Israel accepts their secret diplomatic links with GCC member, Saudi Arabia. Thus when it was announced openly, it wasn’t surprising, as it broke the long-hidden secrecy surrounding the GCC- Israel partnership. It’s said to be a tactical partnership aimed against Iran and to expand recognition of Iran diplomatic in the Arab world. The depth of this partnership is established long before the Iran threat and is considered to keep strengthening even if Israel is not given diplomatic recognition by GCC members, Saudi Arabia and UAE. Military activities like joint air drills with UAE highlight the Israel-GCC coalition. Qatar crisis represents its extension as their support to the Islamist groups was threatening the stability of the region.
Economic dimensions of this partnership are equally deep-rooted. As in around 1990s, the Israeli investors showed interest in the GCC with respect to economic and social ties due to its expanding real estate market and progress in the financial sector. Thus in this regard, Israeli investors, as well as GCC investors, tried to develop state to state trade relations some disagreements related to the Palestinian territories have outreached the halt in Oman and Qatar but this has no effect with the trade growth in UAE and Saudi Arabia, which is growing rapidly over past decade. Also, Saudi Arabia has gained access to the Israeli irrigation technology while UAE has received exceptional growth by Israeli investors in real estate market. This development has also lead to the informal defense sector corporation making Saudi Arabia purchase drone from Israel via South Africa. UAE gained iron dome technology because of this partnership.
Despite positive developments, the Saudis deny their existence of informal relation with Israel. Some thinks that this relation is just anti-Iran but it’s said that it will keep existing until the end and shape a normal balance.
GCC is formed in the region to play a relevant function, but is it doing that or not is questionable right now. Its main role was to solidify the union ranks and take all the middle eastern Arab countries along but due to some blockades like recently that of Qatar by its neighbors has made it suspecious.
Right now GCC is in the storm. It will come out of it bruised but not broken. If made no more mistakes, it will come out as like many times in the past.