By Maher Abbas
— Closer political union of Gulf countries tops the agenda of the 14th consultative Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit meeting here Monday.
During the last summit, King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, called for transforming the six-nation group from the phase of cooperation to a union. That call, widely welcomed by GCC states, as meeting the aspirations of the people in the Gulf is the focus of Monday’s summit meeting.
Need for a close integration among the GCC states was also emphasized by the Bahraini prime minister who arrived in the Kingdom Sunday.
“The great dream of the peoples of the region is to see the day when the borders disappear with a union that creates one Gulf,” Prime Minister Khalifa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa was quoted by Bahrain News Agency.
The meeting is expected to announce closer political union, starting with two or three countries including Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Bahrain’s Information Minister Samira Rajab said.
“I expect there will be an announcement of two or three countries. We can’t be sure but I have a strong expectation,” Rajab said.
“Sovereignty will remain with each of the countries and they would remain as UN members but they would unite in decisions regarding foreign relations, security, military and economy.”
The meeting of the GCC, which also includes Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE and Oman, is taking place amid growing concern over Iran’s destabilizing role and Al-Qaeda after unrest in several countries in the region.
The GCC leaders will also discuss the latest developments at Arab, regional and international arenas.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s provocative visit to Abu Musa Island of the United Arab Emirates will also come up for discussion. GCC states have already denounced the visit as violation of historical UAE rights over Lesser Tunb, Greater Tunb and Abu Musa islands occupied by Iran.
Gulf leaders fear the Arab uprisings last year created more opportunities for Al-Qaeda to gain a foothold in Yemen, where the discovery of another alleged bomb plot was revealed last week. The summit will also review the deteriorating situation in Syria where President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime is violating all civilized norms in brutally suppressing a popular demand for him to resign.
The leaders will discuss the latest situation in Palestine, Yemen and Sudan and changes on the ground in the Arab Spring countries — Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. — With input from Agencies