The leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have decided to form a unified military command for its member states. The decision was made at the council’s 34th summit held in Kuwait on December 10-11.
“In order to take steps to enhance the security and stability of the GCC states and establish a system of collective security,” said a council statement, “the joint defence committee has been asked to conduct the necessary research and take action in this regard.”
On the political level, the GCC governing body praised Saudi Arabia’s request for the reform of the UN Security Council so that it can carry out its duties and responsibilities towards international peace and security. It also welcomed the Iranian leadership’s new approach to the GCC countries and hopes that this will be followed by concrete steps as per the agreement between the P5+1 group and Iran in Geneva on November 24.
With regards to Syria, the GCC condemned the continuation of what it described as the Assad regime’s “genocide” of the Syrian people, noting that banned munitions have been used in the slaughter. At the same time, the council called for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from the country; it stressed its support for “all international efforts to reach an agreement within the UN Security Council” to ensure that humanitarian aid can reach those in need across Syria.
“It is important to protect Syria’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity,” said the GCC statement, which welcomed the opposition coalition’s decision to participate in the forthcoming Geneva II Conference.
The summit was unable to agree on the proposal for the establishment of a Gulf union instead of the GCC but called for further consultation. Saudi Arabia is keen for “the union phase” to begin; Riyadh believes that it is a “critical necessity” imposed by the security, political and economic changes in the region. “It is no longer a luxury,” claim the Saudis.
Riyadh presented the idea of such a union for the first time in 2011, but the Sultanate of Oman has recently expressed its rejection of the project and threatened to withdraw from the GCC should it go ahead. Qatar and Kuwait are both supportive of the proposal.