An Important Gulf Meeting in Changing Circumstances

  • 4 March 2014

The forthcoming 130th Ordinary Session of the GCC Ministerial Council, due to be held this Tuesday in Riyadh, comes at a particularly important time considering the complex prevailing conditions in the Arab region in particular, and the Middle East in general. The meeting will raise a variety of issues and challenges facing the GCC countries—matters that require coordination between the various positions of the GCC member states in order to maintain their common interests and safeguard both their development gains and national security. In such circumstances any Gulf meeting is of great significance, particularly in light of the rapid and overlapping changes taking place in the region today.

The meeting of GCC foreign ministers comes shortly before the Arab League summit in Kuwait, scheduled to begin on March 25, 2014. Therefore, it represents an important opportunity to build consensus regarding issues of mutual concern to the Gulf states that will likely feature on the agenda of the summit at the political, security and economic levels. Such issues naturally relate to the complex current Arab reality; therefore it is hoped that the summit will see Arab participants deliver proactive positions and strategies to address these issues. Kuwait, as the host of the meeting, will work to provide a favorable environment for its success via diplomatic efforts to calm the Arab atmosphere.

The GCC is a regional power with great influence in directing the course of events at both the Arab and Middle Eastern levels. This has become noticeable in recent years, particularly through the role played by the Council in Arab affairs—including the Gulf Initiative adopted by the GCC to address the political and security crisis in Yemen. The transition in Yemen continues under the terms of the Initiative, which also enjoys full international support.

However, the importance of the meeting not only relates to regional developments with direct impacts on the interests of the GCC countries, but also the significant changes occurring in the international arena which also have both direct and indirect repercussions for the GCC countries. Dealing with the consequences of these changes requires ongoing Gulf consultation, particularly in light of the GCC states’ high level of integration and engagement in global political and economic interactions, as well as their vital importance to the global economy and strategic relevance in the policies and considerations of major world powers.