Important Gulf Summit at Historic Juncture

  • 4 December 2007

The 28th summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which opened yesterday (December 3, 2007) in Doha and will conclude today (December 4, 2007), takes place when the Gulf and Middle East regions face a complex set of circumstances and are at a historic crossroads. This makes the summit significant at various levels.

For instance, there is a need to view the situation in Iraq in the context of regional security, and there is a need for developing a joint Gulf strategy for addressing the situation in that country. Other security issues include the Iranian nuclear issue, particularly in the wake of fresh punitive measures by the international community on that country in this regard. With his participation at the GCC summit, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad became the first Iranian President to have attended the forum, since the establishment of the bloc in 1981. This demonstrates the openness of the Gulf toward Tehran and its desire to develop understanding and trust between the sides. It would also be important here to cite developments related to the Middle East peace process in the wake of the Annapolis Conference, where the presence and role of the Gulf region assumed great importance.

The issues tackled at this Gulf summit have enhanced the importance and added new dimensions to the pre-existing framework of Gulf summits. These issues relate to diverse economic, security and political affairs. The summit is being held at a time when the region is facing several important economic issues, including the pegging of Gulf currencies with the US dollar, the establishment of a Gulf Common Market that is expected to be announced at the summit, and steps to be taken by GCC members for the issuance of Gulf common currency by 2010. In addition, other strategic projects for the Gulf are on the agenda, including a proposed railway network that will run for about a 1000kilometers, which may be officially announced provided its implementation would start in 2010.

The regional and international importance of the GCC, the responsible role it plays in the world economy, its important and strategic location for the maintenance of security and stability in the Middle East, and its capacity to respond to developments are some of the factors that give GCC summits great importance around the world. The importance of the GCC summits, lies in the fact that the Gulf region is one of the most important strategic regions in the world and is also the most severely hit by tensions and instability.