Is it Time to End the GCC?
Is it Time to End the GCC?
I traveled to Bahrain, Kuwait and Dubai in two months without using my passport. I had an ID that I could use in its place and it was as if I was moving within a single country. Despite this, the majority of the people of the Gulf Cooperation Council are more disappointed with it than satisfied. Had the GCC been a single entity, as its people and leaders wish, then it would have been the seventh largest country in the world in terms of GDP. Its population would have stood at 55 million, 27th in the world.
Qatar boasts 2.5 million people and Bahrain 1.5 million. What I mean is, without the GCC, these countries appear small and weak. The idea of the GCC was originally to establish it as a united defense bloc against Iran’s threat after the Khomeini revolution. The idea then developed into an economic coop and political alliance. Even though everyone is convinced of the idea of the council, cooperation and all that, the 30 years that have passed have proven that one country alone is capable of defeating all aspirations.
Qatar, specifically since the early 1990s, has been putting obstacles in the GCC path and it has succeeded where Saddam and Iran have failed: It managed to destroy and rip it apart. It fought Bahrain and supported the coupist opposition. It intervened in battles on Saudi Arabia’s borders and it is still financing its external opposition. It funded opposition leaderships that took to the streets in acts that were seen as a revolt against the political system in Kuwait. It organized an internal and external opposition against the United Arab Emirates. It is now the primary financier of the greatest attack against Saudi Arabia and it stands behind the politicization of Khashoggi’s murder. You can say that differences between the GCC member-states is normal. Some of them are ongoing, whether on border issues or political affairs. But each Gulf country, besides Qatar, has not crossed dangerous red lines to threaten the security and peace of their brothers.
The truth is there are no excuses for Doha’s malicious and lowly practices that it has not ceased in 28 years. This is why the six member-states met in Riyadh today where they are feeling the bitter effects of Qatar’s harmful meddling.
Amid this ongoing deterioration in ties, the headquarters of the GCC in Riyadh did not shut their doors even in the darkest of days. The council continued to work with all of its employees from all nations, including Qatar. After a year-and-a-half of the diplomatic and economic boycott of Doha, Saudi Arabia has allowed Qatari nationals from maintaining their jobs at the GCC.
Today’s summit could not conceal the dark political cloud hanging over its head. It also strongly poses a question over the future of the GCC as doubts rise over the value of this union. It was established to protect itself against any foreign attack and it succeeded in uniting ranks against Iran and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. It however, failed miserably in deterring attacks from within itself. For over a quarter of a century, it has failed in confronting the hostile behavior of one country.
A wedge has been driven in the GCC and if the current situation continues, it will be doomed without return. It would not be too much to hold Qatar responsible for this problem and it alone can end these tensions. It is unlikely that it will alter its behavior unless a miracle were to happen and reconciliation to be struck.