The Future of the Gulf Cooperation Council

Decades of rivalry and antagonism have taken a toll on the alliance.

Just six weeks after the beginning of the 1980 Iraq-Iran War, Arab countries gathered for a summit in Amman, Jordan. It was there that the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain proposed creating a union of Arab Gulf states that would defend their interests and bring stability to the region. Six months later, the Gulf Cooperation Council, consisting of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman, was formed. The GCC’s mission statement stressed the indivisible sovereignty of its member states and a nonalignment posture. It was billed as the prelude to military, security and economic integration, including a currency union, a central bank and a long-term economic development strategy. Though the members shared a turbulent history, the lack of regional security, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and fears that the Red Army might march toward the oil-rich Gulf compelled Arab rulers to seek protection together. They were also troubled by Iraq’s war against Iran, knowing that both countries harbored ambitions to dominate the Gulf. Acute security concerns therefore provided the impetus for the establishment of the GCC. When these threats subsided, however, so did the Arab states’ motivation for cooperation. Irreconcilable differences and mutual suspicions derailed the […]

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Hilal Khashan
Hilal Khashan is a Professor of political science at the American University of Beirut. He is a respected author and analyst of Middle Eastern affairs. He is the author of six books, including Hizbullah: A Mission to Nowhere. (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2019.) He is currently writing a book titled Saudi Arabia: The Dilemma of Political Reform and the Illusion of Economic Development. He is also the author of more than 110 articles that appeared in journals such as Orbis, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, The Brown Journal of World Affairs, Middle East Quarterly, Third World Quarterly, Israel Affairs, Journal of Religion and Society, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, and The British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies.