181210 gulf leaders
Gulf leaders met in Riyadh for the 39th summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Image Credit: AP

The 39th GCC Summit, which concluded in Riyadh on Sunday, served to highlight the threats to the security and stability of the region, and the economic challenges it faces. Crucially for the member states, it underlined the importance of maintaining a united front against Iran and the terrorism it helps spread in the region. Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, who chaired the summit, pointed out that the key was to hold on to the gains that have been made, and to work with the GCC’s partners to preserve security and stability in the region and the world.

Collective action will help Gulf states meet the aspirations of the citizens of the GCC, and deepen the Gulf integration that was the main goal of leaders who established the Council in 1981. It would also mean the Council will remain faithful to the ‘Basic Law’, which was adopted by the founders. The law holds that the ultimate goal of the GCC is to achieve coordination, integration and interdependence among the member states in all fields.

In the final communique of the Riyadh Summit, leaders agreed to develop a road map towards achieving integration between the GCC states and strengthen their relations with the international community to achieve more growth and prosperity. Another sign of unity within the Council came in the form of the summit’s support for the right of the UAE to regain sovereignty over its three islands illegally occupied by Iran: the Greater and the Lesser Tunbs and Abu Mousa, and over the territorial waters, the airspace, the continental shelf, and the economic zone of these islands. They are an integral part of the UAE. There is increasing realisation about the importance of the joint defence system. The Gulf states showed they were alive to this notion by highlighting the need to appoint a commander of the unified military command as an important step to completing the joint defence system. Meanwhile, Kuwait’s Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, who has tried unsuccessfully to mediate the Qatar row, called for an end to malicious media campaigns that threatened regional unity.

True to form, Qatar tried to throw a spanner in the works. The Qatari emir chose to stay out of the meeting, despite receiving an invitation from King Salman. Doha instead sent its state minister for foreign affairs. The success of the meeting highlighted the irrelevance of Doha, which continues with its refusal to accept the fair demands of the Arab quartet, which has been boycotting Qatar since June last year for its support for terror groups and its cosy relations with the Iranian regime.