The proposal to transform the GCC into a union of Gulf states, which will herald a new era of Gulf cooperation amid changing regional alliances, figured prominently in the final communiqué issued by GCC heads of state.
“A special Gulf authority comprising three nominated representatives from each GCC member state will be set up to study all aspects of the strategic move that calls for forging a single regional alliance,” said GGC Secretary-General Abdullatif Al-Zayani.
Several other significant decisions were taken by the Gulf leaders including a call to Syria to stop the bloodshed in the country.
Prince Saud Al-Faisal, foreign minister, said Syria must embrace and implement all of the Arab League plan it has signed calling for pulling troops from populated areas, releasing prisoners and starting dialogue with opposition forces. “If the intentions are pure, these steps must be taken immediately,” Prince Saud said in response to a question about Syria’s signing of the plan, which has also imposed sanctions on Damascus.
The final communiqué issued by the GCC also urged Syria’s government to “immediately halt its killing machine, put an end to bloodshed, lift all signs of armed conflict and release prisoners, as a first step toward implementing the (Arab) protocol” that Damascus agreed to on Monday. The GCC states urged “the Syrian government to implement all points of the Arab initiative and the protocol on sending Arab League observers” to the restive country.
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Al-Maqdad signed the accord on Monday after weeks of prevarication in the hope that the Arab League will lift sweeping sanctions imposed on the Damascus regime. The plan, endorsed by Syria on Nov. 2, also calls for a complete halt to the violence, releasing detainees and the complete withdrawal of the military from towns and residential districts.
Referring to Morocco and Jordan, the statement said the Gulf leaders agreed to create a $5 billion fund to support the development plans of Jordan and Morocco. “The GCC has decided to create a Gulf development fund, which begins by providing support to development projects in the Kingdom of Jordan and the Kingdom of Morocco worth $2.5 billion for each,” said the statement read out by Al-Zayani.
“The GCC supreme council has assigned the finance ministers of its members to study the statute and structures needed to create the fund,” said the statement without giving any timeframe for Jordan and Morocco to become members. The statement also did not explain the type of membership to be given to the new entrants.
Spelling out details of King Abdullah’s initiative, Al-Zayani said the plan once implemented will have a “positive impact on the region and its population.”
Al-Zayani said the GCC panel entrusted with the task of merging the Gulf countries into a single entity will hold their meetings at the Riyadh-based GCC General Secretariat.
“The members of the panel will use all financial and technical resources of the General Secretariat,” said the GCC chief, adding the GCC member states will submit the names of the nominated panel members not later than Feb. 1, 2012.
A primary report on the progress of King Abdullah’s initiative will be submitted in March next year, said the statement. The special authority will submit its final recommendations to the 14th consultative meeting of the GCC leaders, said the statement, which also focused on a host of regional issues of mutual concerns.
The final GCC communiqué called on Tehran “to stop meddling in the internal affairs of the GCC group’s members.”
“Stop these policies and practices … and stop interfering in the internal affairs” of the Gulf nations, said the statement, which also expressed concern over attempts by Iran to “instigate sectarian strife.”
The GCC also called on Iran to “fully cooperate” with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and work to resolve regional conflicts “peacefully,” adding that the GCC nations were still committed to a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.
Referring to growing cooperation among GCC member states, Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa described the 32nd GCC Summit as a landmark historical event that will herald a new phase of unity among GCC member states. He lauded a decision reached at the summit to grant Bahrain and Oman $10 billion each to support development work in the two countries.
“The move is part of the GCC development scheme and a reassertion of continuous support to the efforts made to bring about more progress and prosperity,” said Al-Khalifa.
On the question of the building of a Kuwaiti port that has been disputed by Iraq, the GCC heads of state threw their weight behind Kuwait and urged Baghdad to “normalize ties with its neighbor.”
“The GCC supports the construction of Mubarak Al-Kabir Port since it will be built on Kuwaiti land and within its territorial waters,” said the final communiqué. Baghdad claims the seaport, once completed, would strangle its shipping lanes and may cause problems in the Khor Abdullah waterway. Kuwait, on the other hand, claims the port will not affect Iraq.
Khor Abdullah is a narrow waterway that separates Iraqi and Kuwaiti shores off Bubiyan Island where the megaport is being built, and leads to Iraq’s Umm Qasr port and other smaller ports. Last week, the UN Security Council also called on Iraq to step up efforts to normalize relations with neighboring Kuwait. Also, Iran and Kuwait have not settled their border and Iraq still has to pay almost $20 billion in war damages.
The Gulf is the main export outlet for Iraqi oil, which accounts for the lion’s share of the country’s revenues, and Baghdad has started major work to modernize its outdated ports and plans to build a new port of its own.
The GCC also called on all parties in Iraq “to build a safe, united, stable, and prosperous Iraq” following the withdrawal of US troops from the country.
Referring to the need for reforms in the Gulf countries, Al-Zayani said the GCC leaders called for speeding up the process of development and comprehensive reforms in their countries with an aim to achieve greater participation of all citizens, men and women in the affairs of the nation. “The plan will be to open more avenues for the Gulf people with security, stability and national cohesion and social well-being,” said Al-Zayani.
The statement also called for improvement on all fronts in the Gulf countries and for consolidating national unity based on equality of all citizens before the law. It called on people “to ensure peace and confront attempts of foreign entities which are trying to export their internal crises through creating discord, division and sectarian incitement.”
The declaration emphasized the need to “work hard to achieve the highest levels of economic integration among GCC countries.” It also called to overcome the obstacles that obstruct the GCC march toward “the realization of a customs union, monetary union and common market.”
It called for “the development of defense and security cooperation to ensure quick and effective collective response to any risk or emergency situation.” The declaration also called on Gulf states to adopt diplomacy to address national, Arab and Islamic issues and initiating common communication and interaction with all regional and international powers.
The statement appreciated the role of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahayan of the UAE for his untiring efforts to promote the GCC during his country’s chairmanship.
In the final communiqué, the leaders also thanked King Abdullah for chairing the current round, praising his keen desire to forge closer unity among the Gulf nations. The Gulf leaders also expressed their condolence on the sad demise of Crown Prince Sultan, while referring to the role he had played in the GCC.
The GCC leaders also expressed their appreciation for the selection of Prince Naif as crown prince and deputy premier by King Abdullah. The GCC leaders expressed their full support for Bahrain to ensure stability and security.
The GCC leaders also reviewed recommendations and reports on what has been achieved since the previous round in all political, economic, legal, defense, health, educational and cultural fields.
The final statement was issued after King Abdullah announced the closure of the summit Tuesday afternoon following another prolonged closed-door session.
The meeting as part of the GCC summit was attended by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates; King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa of Bahrain; Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman; Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, emir of Qatar; and Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, emir of Kuwait.

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