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Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states are expected to discuss moves towards a confederate style union—a Saudi proposal first put forward in December 2011—when they meet today in Riyadh.
Discussions on unity are likely to encompass greater economic integration and cooperation on security and defence. The Saudi proposal made clear that the Union, however, would not seek to interfere in the sovereignty of member states.
Yet with local populations increasingly calling for greater political accountability and reforms—namely in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain—any future GCC Union should address how it can formulate pathways to implement reforms across the region as a whole.
But that would be unlikely. David Roberts, Deputy Director of RUSI Qatar, explains in an interesting article for Foreign Policy why he finds it difficult to see any “meaningful GCC Union” taking place. For one, it would most likely be dominated by Saudi Arabia, which sees the protest movements across the Arab world over the last year as destabilising to the region as a whole.
Roberts does go into greater depths explaining the intricacies involved as well as why some member states would be resistant to greater union. So to those who are interested in GCC issues, I highly recommend reading his article here.