GCC LEADERS FAIL TO ADVANCE POLITICAL UNION
By Gordon Platt
When the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council met in Bahrain in late December for their annual summit, they postponed an official announcement of the GCC Union proposed by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia a year earlier.
Nor was there any mention of expanding the GCC to include Morocco and Jordan. The final communiqué focused on economic and defense issues rather than political integration, as the monarchs appeared determined to protect their individual sovereignty. The document emphasized, however, that any attack on one GCC state “is an attack on them all.”
The GCC summit came less than two weeks after the United Arab Emirates signed an agreement with Russia to cooperate on the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The agreement includes uranium mining and processing, fuel production, research and building nuclear power plants. It comes at a time when the GCC is concerned about Iran’s nuclear activity.
Meanwhile, Egypt was expected to resume talks with the International Monetary Fund on a $4.8 billion loan, following the approval via referendum of its much-debated, Islamist-drafted constitution. The Egyptian pound nosedived last month, as Egypt drew down its foreign currency reserves to critically low levels.
In Iraq, large demonstrations were held in the western Anbar region in late December following the arrest of the bodyguards of Iraq finance minister Rafi al-Issawi. Some protesters called for a self-governing region in western Iraq, similar to the Kurdish region in northern Iraq.