News / Middle East

Arab Gulf Council Mulls Adding Jordan, Morocco

Bahrain's FM Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, Saudi Arabia's FM Prince Saud al-Faisal, Oman's FM Youssef bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Kuwaiti FM Sheikh Mohammad Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah and United Arab Emirates' FM Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyanat talk
Bahrain's FM Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, Saudi Arabia's FM Prince Saud al-Faisal, Oman's FM Youssef bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Kuwaiti FM Sheikh Mohammad Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah and United Arab Emirates' FM Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyanat talk

Jordan and Morocco have begun talks to join the Gulf Cooperation Council in an apparent bid to consolidate the power of Middle Eastern monarchies as fears of growing unrest continue in the region.

Economy and accession

At a GCC meeting in Jeddah over the weekend, ministers discussed a five-year economic development plan for Jordan and Morocco and agreed to form a committee to study accession procedures.

The two kingdoms are currently the only Arab monarchies that do not belong to the political and economic bloc.

Expansion of the group is expected to provide a number of benefits for both new and old members. But Theodore Karasik, director of research at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, says the main motive is to preserve the status quo.

“This was a call to unite the monarchies as this wave swept through the region of turning over old regimes," said Karasik. "Jordan is a very important country to the GCC because of its proximity. Propping up the monarchy in Jordan is a priority because of the possibility of what could come next if it were to fall."

Monarchies

Gulf states are worried that if one Arab monarchy is toppled, it could trigger a domino effect. Jordan and Morocco both witnessed public protests earlier this year.

In the Gulf, Bahrain also saw massive demonstrations, but the situation was generally brought under control when the GCC deployed its military wing, known as the Peninsula Shield Force, to help quell demonstrations.

A larger GCC would have a larger military to crack down on dissidents. Karasik says this appeals to Gulf leaders, who are determined to strengthen security within their borders.

“Now you’re seeing a new phase where you’re having the GCC states look at the organization in two tiers - an economic and security tier and a security tier by itself," said Karasik. "So, what we think will happen is that Morocco and Jordan will be part of a security pact whereas the rest of the GCC will continue to be an economic organization."

In terms of regional alliances, the group - currently made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar the United Arab Emirates - is the most successful model the Middle East has seen in the last few decades.

Its members are some of the richest nations in the world in terms of Gross Domestic Product, thanks to vast fossil fuel deposits - a stark contrast to Jordan and Morocco, which both have relatively low GDPs.

Christian Koch, director of international relations at the Gulf Research Center, says it is difficult to predict what steps Jordan and Morocco may take to gain acceptance to the bloc.

“We really don’t know yet what kind of criteria you evaluate an application like that of Jordan in terms of joining the GCC," said Koch. "Are there going to have to be compromises that are going to have to be made by other existing members already? This is just completely unclear at the moment."

Benefits for GCC

In addition to the added security, the expansion would also provide a buffer against Iranian influence in the region, improve trade links and labor movement.

What’s more, Fayez Khasawneh, acting secretary general of the Amman-based Arab Thought Forum, says it would make tackling some of the most pressing problems in the region easier.

"Many of the developmental issues cannot be genuinely tackled on a country-by-country basis," said Khasawneh. "The very nature of water, the very nature of environment, energy and so forth - these are regional issues.”

GCC ministers say discussion with Jordan and Morocco will continue, however a timetable for accession has not been made.

You May Like

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs