We are only one week into 2021 and already the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have set this region on a new path following a historic summit in Al Ula, Saudi Arabia — setting differences aside, turning the page and beginning a new chapter in cooperation and security, and focusing too on the clear and present danger posed by aggressive Iran.
For four decades, the GCC — made up of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman — has worked closely to strengthen ties, and while there have been periods of difficulties, recent events such as the global coronavirus pandemic have shown that cooperation achieves far more. Yes, there is strength in unity.
The 41st annual summit, hosted by King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman at Al Ula, also turned a new page for a new generation of leaders for Oman and Kuwait, with Sultan Qaboos of Oman and Sheikh Sabah of Kuwait passing away within nine months of each other last year.
As the Al Ula communique notes, the leaders of the GCC will “continue the march of unity and cooperation in order to achieve common interests to serve their peoples and ensure security and stability in the region.”
By turning a page on the past and restating the purpose of unity, the leaders of the GCC have sent out a clear message. Any New Year is always a time for renewed optimism and looking to the future. With 2021 just days old, there is indeed reason to cheer
For the leaders of the GCC, the actions of Iran and its policies of deliberate interference across the region serve as a reminder peace and stability cannot be taken for granted. The regime in Tehran continues on policies that have interrupted the regional equilibrium, interfering in the internal matters of Arab countries.
Tehran's destabilising behaviour
In recent days, Iran has stepped up its enrichment of plutonium and seized a South Korean-flagged tanker near the international passageway of the Strait of Hormuz. Tehran is also intent on developing further its ballistic missiles and drones capabilities. Iran “aims to shake up the stability of the region,” Prince Mohammed Bin Salman noted in his speech at the summit. Hopefully Iran will get the message and open a new chapter of good relations with its Arab neighbours.
By turning a page on the past and restating the purpose of unity, the leaders of the GCC have sent out a clear message. Any New Year is always a time for renewed optimism and looking to the future. With 2021 just days old, there is indeed reason to cheer.
GCC remains united as it begins its fifth decade of working together for the better of all in the Gulf region — and that message resonates beyond in the wider Arab world too. With the Qatar rift also over, the GCC is on track to affirm unity and progress.