2011-07-11

The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf


The GCC initially created in 1981, just 2 years after the Islamic revolution in Iran when the Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was overthrown. The reason for creation of the common intergovernmental organization was actually the fears in the Gulf monarchies of the possible revolts within their own countries, where the Shia-muslims made up from 10% (in Saudi-Arabia) to 75% (in Bahrain) of the total population. The Shia-muslims have long been seen as a base for future Islamic revolution, the concept of which the new Iranian regime adopted in its foreign policy as an instrument that allowed to broaden its sphere of influence on the region by delegitimizing the monarchies under the banner of the establishment the just system of rule based on true (Shia) values of Islam.

Already at the beginning the two main areas of cooperation were defined. The proclaimed economic cooperation between the Gulf states with obviously same oil-exporting economies was already then seen as a marginal field of work within the GCC. However, since its establishment the GCC has involved from mere the free-trade agreement to the customs-union and there is now the implementation of the common currency in the agenda, although differences within the GCC hamper this process[1]. The Council deepens economic ties with such regional player as Turkey[2] and the more influential China.  

Much more interesting was another domain of cooperation, defence. As it was initially formulated the main objective of the GCC in matters of defence was actually cooperation against any possible outside threat in the region, primarily Iran, that is still perceived by the GCC as a main destabilizing factor in the Gulf. It explains why the GCC provided financial support to Iraq during the War of 1980-1988. Despite its declarations of readiness for fight against external aggression, the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait clearly showed the disability of the GCC to defend its own territory[3]. After the establishment anti-American regime in Iran and the active engagement of the USA in the Middle East in Afghanistan and Iraq the GCC has obtained greater significance in the eyes of the American policy-makers that would like to see Saudi-Arabia (the core country in the GCC[4]) as a counterbalance for Iran and a stabilizing factor in the region as whole.

After inviting foreign troops to fight Iraq and start of the Saudi-American cooperation in the region the necessity of having developed system of defence within the GCC became less acute. Instead, the Gulf-countries have focused their attempts on the building of the effective force structure that could fight internal threat coming from the Shia-comminites in the Gulf-monarchies. The cooperation of the Gulf states in this area demonstrates the nature of the Council. It is the intergovernmental mechanism created by the monarchies in order to safeguard[5] their regimes existing in the highly unstable surrounding[6] by mutual financial and first of all military support. The ongoing negations over the possible accession such countries as Morocco and Jordan with their monarchial system of governments show the growing need inside the GCC for more sources that might legitimize its own systems of rule.

1 comment:

  1. The GCC is just one of the few tool of the Saudi influence in the region. And the small monarchies don't seem to be against such a "cooperation"...

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