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

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions 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.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid