National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations

You are cordially invited to attend

Report from the Gulf Cooperation Council's
Ministerial and Heads of State Summit in Kuwait,
December 14-15, 2009:
What Did and Did Not Happen and What Next?

A Briefing and Discussion

Dr. John Duke Anthony
National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations
Founding President and Chief Executive Officer

Tuesday, December 22, 2009
3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP
1875 K Street, NW, Washington, DC

Flags of the GCC countries The Gulf Cooperation Council, comprised of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, was founded on May 25, 1981 as a political and economic agreement designed to promote greater cooperation and standardization of policies between the six member states. Its long term vision has been to move from enhanced cooperation toward building a set of common institutions that will coordinate various policy areas among the members.

Dr. John Duke Anthony was present at the GCC's creation and at its inaugural heads of state meeting in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates in 1981. He is the only Westerner to have been invited to attend each of the GCC's Annual Ministerial and Heads of State Summits over the twenty-nine years of its existence. Dr. Anthony, who is just returning from the 2009 GCC Ministerial and Heads of State Summit in Kuwait, will discuss the reasons for the GCC's establishment, explain what the organization is and is not, and review what did and did not happen at this year's meeting. He will also analyze the GCC's and its members' policies, positions, actions and attitudes toward various challenges facing Arabia and the Gulf as well as the organization's and the members' relations with powers beyond the immediate region.

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Established in 1983, the National Council is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit, non-governmental organization. Its mission is educating Americans and others about America's relationships and interests with the Arab and Islamic worlds. A fuller description of the Council's numerous projects, programs, events, publications, and activities can be accessed at The National Council does not employ or retain a lobbyist.

'How' Questions for Consideration

HOW do representative segments among government officials and prominent private sector groups in the GCC countries view the present trends and indications:       
  • in Iraq - regarding its uncertain security, stability, and unity?
  • in Iran - with reference to its nuclear development, the possibility of the near-term imposition of additional sanctions, its involvement in Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, the UAE?
  • in Israel-Palestine - in terms of Israel's continuing blockade of the Gaza Strip, its refusal to comply with the U.S. demand for a complete freeze on settlements, unilateral transformation of the demographic character of Jerusalem, its threats to possibly take unilateral military action against Iran, and its perceived de facto refusal to accept or respond in any meaningfully positive way to the unanimous pan-Arab peace proposal and offer of normalizing relations between Arabs and Israelis dating from March 31, 2002?
  • in Yemen - regarding the challenges posed by an ongoing uprising in the north, the nature and implications of declared secessionist sentiments in the south, and the context and veracity of reports of an emboldened Al-Qaeda seeking to carve out one or more sanctuaries in the country?
  • in the Obama administration - its backpedaling on the president's widely applauded statements in Istanbul and Cairo that were viewed at the time as not only statesmanlike but bold, courageous, and visionary, its having little concrete to show for the efforts of Peace Envoy George Mitchell's thus far, and the degree to which it has accommodated the GCC countries' wish to be present for the take-off and not merely on the landing in terms of having meaningful input and comment in any forthcoming reforms of the rules, regulations, and policies as they relate to such issues as the world's economies, trade, investment, technology cooperation, the environment, and the establishment of joint ventures?
HOW is it that Iran, Iraq, and Yemen have until now never been seriously considered for membership in the GCC and it appears unlikely that they will be invited to join in the foreseeable future?

HOW has the GCC been able to rationalize and defend its formation as an organization that some have to come to see, whether rightly or wrongly, as (1) either more important or relevant on some issues than the much older and more regionally encompassing League of Arab States, (2) potentially in competition with or manifesting only limited deference to the League, and (3) and/or detracting, if at all, from the historically compelling cause of Arab unity in the broadest sense possible?

HOW is it that the joint quest dating from 1988 to forge a Free Trade Agreement between the GCC and the European Union was declared at the last GCC summit a year ago in Muscat as postponed for the time being but, in the intervening period of less than a year since then, the GCC has successfully entered into free trade agreements with other parties: one with the European Free Trade Association and the other with Singapore, thereby adding to still other ones successfully negotiated with Lebanon, New Zealand, and Pakistan?

HOW is it that the biannual GCC-United States bilateral discussions on commercial issues of the 1990s that came to an end in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, have not been revived since then -- especially given the numerous and ongoing bilateral issues of trade, investment, technology cooperation, and the establishment of joint ventures between their private sectors, plus their and many others' respective economic, credit, and liquidity crises of the past year?

HOW can one explain what even the GCC and its member-states' leaders acknowledge as the pace of progress on implementing GCC goals having been far slower and incomplete than what not only the organization's founders but, even more so, the GCC peoples had hoped and expected would be the case when this pioneering experiment in Arab regional cooperation and integration began in 1981?

Dr. John Duke Anthony

Dr. John Duke Anthony
John Duke Anthony is the founding President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations and currently serves on the United States Department of State Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy. He has been the only American invited to each of the Gulf Cooperation Council's Ministerial and Heads of State Summits since the GCC's inception in 1981. For the past 35 years, he has been a consultant and regular lecturer on the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf for the Departments of Defense and State. He is former Chair, Near East and North Africa Program, and was Founding Chair, Advanced Arabian Peninsula Studies Seminar, Foreign Service Institute, U.S. Department of State.

In addition to heading the National Council, consulting, lecturing, and serving as an Adjunct Faculty Member at the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Institute for Security Assistance Management since 1974, Dr. Anthony has been an Adjunct Professor since 2006 at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, where he developed and teaches a course for graduate students on "Politics of the Arabian Peninsula," the first such academic semester-long course to be offered at any American university. In 2007, he was a Visiting Lecturer at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies. In 2008, he was the Distinguished Visiting Professor at the American University in Cairo's HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin 'Abdalaziz Al-Sa'ud Center for American Studies.

A member of the Council on Foreign Relations since 1986, Dr. Anthony is a frequent participant in its study groups on issues relating to the Arabian Peninsula and Gulf regions and the broader Arab and Islamic world. Dr. Anthony is the author of three books, the editor of a fourth, and has published more than 175 articles, essays, and monographs dealing with America's interests and involvement in the Arab countries, the Middle East, and the Islamic world. His best-known works are Arab States of the Lower Gulf: People, Politics, Petroleum; The Middle East: Oil, Politics, and Development (editor and co-author) and, together with J.E. Peterson, Historical and Cultural Dictionary of the Sultanate of Oman and the Emirates of Eastern Arabia. His most recent book, The United Arab Emirates: Dynamics of State Formation, was published in 2002.

Dr. Anthony holds a B.A. in History from the Virginia Military Institute and a Master of Science in Foreign Service (With Distinction) from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations and Middle East Studies from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

About the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations

Founded in 1983, the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations is an American non-profit, non-governmental, educational organization dedicated to improving American knowledge and understanding of the Arab world. The Council has been granted public charity status in accordance with Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All contributions are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. The National Council does not employ or retain a lobbyist.


The National Council's vision is a relationship between the United States and its Arab partners, friends, and allies that rests on as solid and enduring a foundation as possible. Such a foundation, viewed from both ends of the spectrum, is one that would be characterized by strengthened and expanded strategic, economic, political, commercial, and defense cooperation ties; increased joint ventures; a mutuality of benefit; reciprocal respect for each other's heritage and values; and overall acceptance of each other's legitimate needs, concerns, interests, and objectives.


The National Council's mission is educational. It seeks to enhance American awareness, knowledge, and understanding of the Arab countries, the Mideast, and the Islamic world. Its means for doing so encompass but are not limited to programs for leadership development, people-to-people exchanges, lectures, publications, an annual Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference, and the participation of American students and faculty in Arab world study experiences. As a public service, the Council also serves as an information clearinghouse and participant in national, state, and local grassroots outreach to media, think tanks, and select community, civic, educational, religious, business, and professional associations. In these ways the Council helps strengthen and expand the overall Arab-U.S. relationship.

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