GCC at a critical juncture

A general view for the GCC leaders meeting in Kuwait City

The 38th Gulf Coop­eration Council (GCC) summit highlighted the limits of this regional grouping but the an­nouncement the same day of a new UAE-Saudi “cooperation and coordination” mechanism point­ed to new possibilities in regional collaboration.
The unprecedented brevity of the GCC summit and the low level of representation at the December 5 gathering in Kuwait City dem­onstrated the extent to which the Qatari crisis had put a damper on expectations from the gathering.
Doha’s unwillingness to seri­ously address grievances of the Saudi-led Arab boycott did not leave much room for hope of tangible results from the sum­mit. The meeting, which went on without the participation of the Saudi, Emirati and Bahraini heads of state, nonetheless would have the credit of formally preserving the existence of the GCC as a func­tioning entity.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the key countries in the regional grouping, seemed, however, convinced of the press­ing need for a more efficient ap­proach in the face of regional challenges, not the least of which is Iran’s pursuit of hostile designs as illustrated by its support for its Houthi proxies in Yemen.
It came, therefore, as no sur­prise that Riyadh and Abu Dhabi announced a “joint coordination and cooperation committee” that would “bolster and coordinate re­lations between the two countries in the military, political, econom­ic, commercial and cultural and other fields dictated by the inter­ests of the two countries.”
“The new Saudi-UAE commit­tee is bound to be seen as an al­ternative, if not substitute, to the malfunctioning GCC,” wrote Pat­rick Wintour, diplomatic editor of the Guardian.
The strategic vision behind the UAE-Saudi initiative reflects a keen awareness of the serious challenges facing the Gulf region. It also indicates the political will to urgently address such challenges.
This article was originally published in The Arab Weekly.