Chronicle of the Middle East and North Africa

Gulf Cooperation Council

Photo: AFP


The Gulf area is going through a period full of conflicts that threaten its security and stability in the long term. The oil-rich Gulf countries agreed on a union between them almost 4 decades ago. Nevertheless, that didn’t prevent the member states from falling into a major crisis, due to the disagreement between Qatar on one hand and Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain on the other hand.

In this special file, Fanack presents several articles, diving into the details around the various issues happening in the region.

GCC is an eco-political alliance between six middle-eastern countries, united by culture, common history, and the Arabian Peninsula’s geography.

GCC member States
GCC member States. @Fanack

The Alliance came to existence in May 1981, between KSA, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman, for the purpose of unifying its members as the council’s charter states. However, the direct objective of the council’s countries is to protect themselves from possible threats after the Iran-Iraq war.

The Alliance structure consists of:

1. The Supreme Council, which is the decision-making body at the top of the hierarchy. The council is held once annually, and it consists of the leaders of the GCC countries. The decisions must be approved unanimously.

2. The Ministerial Council, which is composed of foreign ministers or other government officials. It convenes quarterly to execute the supreme council’s decisions, in addition to proposing policies.

3. The Secretariat General, which is the executive arm of the GCC. It monitors policy implementation and arranges meetings.

4. The Consultative Commission, which provides advice to the Supreme Council. It is composed of five representatives for each of the member states.

5. The Dispute Settlement Commission, its mission is to find diplomatic solutions for problems and disputes between member states.

6. The Secretary-General, who is appointed by the Supreme Council for a term of three years renewable for only another term.

In 1982, the GCC countries decided to form a joint military force named “Peninsula Shield Force”. In 2000, the GCC Defense Pact was signed, which is a joint military defense agreement between the GCC countries.

Since 1981, the GCC economy went through several phases and changes. These changes were accompanied by many economic legislations and trade pacts that enhanced growth steadily. They also helped get through several global economic crises. These include the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 and the 2014 low oil price. However, the coordination of joint investments remained at its minimum levels, as each country individually sought to direct its investments in proportion to its orientations and plans towards diversifying its investment environment.

Between the bless and the curse of oil price fluctuation during 2010s and its effects on Sovereign wealth funds, some Gulf countries have pursued policies of developing and diversifying their exports. They also committed to raising the rates of non-oil products exports, in accordance with the plans of each country.

While others sought to diversify energy sources, expanding the usage of alternative renewable energy to reduce fossil fuel consumption despite the enormous fossil reserves these countries enjoy.

Although the GCC remained solid over three and a half decades, the conflicting interests led to divisions between the member states. In 2017, KSA, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed connections with Qatar.

On the political level, the Gulf countries feared the repercussions of what was termed as “Creative Chaos”. These chaos led to an obsession among them about spyware possession after the Arab Spring in 2011; something that enabled the governments to track political opposition and easily intercept any online actions.

To know more about the Gulf Cooperation Council, kindly go through the multiple articles of this special file made by Fanack.

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