December 22, 2009
Report from the Gulf Cooperation Council's Ministerial and Heads of State Summit in Kuwait, December 2009:
What Did and Did Not Happen and What Next?
AUDIO - Part 1 (.mp3)
AUDIO - Part 2 (.mp3)
TRANSCRIPT COMING SOON
> Dr. John Duke Anthony, Founding President and CEO, National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations
'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:
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?
- 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 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?