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GCC anniversary marked amid hopes for a Gulf union

Bahrainis praise achievements, but stress need to address pending issues

Gulf News

Manama: Bahrainis are marking the 32nd anniversary of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) with hopes for greater achievements and calls for prompter Gulf unity.

The Council, set up on May 25, 1981 in Abu Dhabi, brought together Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE under one umbrella.

“As we celebrate this glorious anniversary, we look forward to more accelerated paces towards moving from the stage of cooperation to the long due stage of unity,” MP Sawsan Al Taqawi said. “The unity is a vision shared by the leaders and people of the Gulf and the GCC should achieve it in order to fulfil the aspirations and anticipations of the region,” she said.

Al Taqawi, elected in 2011 to the lower chamber of the bicameral parliament, said that the GCC had an impressive scoreboard, but needed to reinforce it.

“The GCC has achieved outstanding accomplishments for the Gulf people, but there is a lot more that should be achieved as well. There is a need to boost the progress towards the unity and achieve further progress and prosperity for the Arabian Gulf countries,” she said.

The lawmaker said that the Gulf countries needed to look carefully at their past resolution, particularly those related to business projects and their unity, in order to be able to confront together regional and foreign challenges.

“I look forward to the issue of Gulf union being taken up at the forthcoming advisory summit in Riyadh,” she said.

Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz in December 2011 called upon the six member countries of the GCC to move from the phase of cooperation to the phase of unity within a single entity.

The call was endorsed by the member states and an ad-hoc committee was set up to look into it.

However, some GCC countries asked for more time to study the proposal. Enthusiasm was most intense in Bahrain and neighbouring Saudi Arabia and expectations last May were high that the two countries would announce a core union with two or three members that allowed the other countries to join at a later time.

However, Gulf officials denied the reports and said that the GCC countries were still studying the proposal together.

“The GCC countries have succeeded in reinforcing security and military cooperation and coordination as a priority for the Council,” Al Taqawi said. “We now look forward to a unified Gulf army as a prelude to the Gulf union,” she said.

Bahraini business analyst Yousuf Mishaal said that “the birth of the GCC in 1981 was a practical embodiment of what successive generations of Gulf nationals have been dreaming about.”

For Akbar Jaafari, a consultant, the GCC has seen numerous achievements over 32 years.

“However, at the same time, there were complications that need a prompt review in order to support the accomplishments. The example of the long queues of trucks waiting to use the King Fahd Causeway between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia is an example of these complications,” he said.