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

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora