The Gulf Cooperation Council Enlargement: Geopolitics Reconsidered

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The Gulf Cooperation Council Enlargement: Geopolitics Reconsidered

Notes internacionals CIDOB, núm. 35

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) announcement during the Heads of State summit held recently in Riyadh to invite Jordan and Morocco to join their regional organisation has surprised almost everyone; perhaps the biggest surprise was experienced by Moroccan officials, which unlike Jordan never approached the GCC for a membership in the first place. To understand this surprising change in the GCC foreign policy, it is necessary to shed light on some key changes in the regional and global geopolitical landscapes.

The wave of the popular protests and uprisings that has swept through the Arab world since Tunisian protests ousted the country’s longstanding president Zin El-Abidin Ben Ali has shaken not only the region’s internal politics, but also many geostrategic fundamentals that govern the region’s relations with the rest of the world. Many Arab leaders, particularly in the GCC, have felt that there are major internal and external shifts taking place simultaneously that could have profound impact on their political stability and the survival of their regimes.

One question is posing itself urgently: are the Arab monarchies still immune to political revolutions and popular calls for more democracy? Despite counter-revolutionary efforts of Saudi Arabia and other rich GCC countries such as generous welfare packages and government cheques for citizens and financial aid to other Arab governments, their policy-makers are convinced that things will never be the same again. The Arab world will not return to its former state of decade-long political stagnation. It is difficult to foresee how the Arab revolutions are going to play out in the coming weeks and months, but one thing certain is that young Arabs have broken the fear barrier and aspire for open and progressive political regimes. Post-revolutionary Egypt and Tunisia, and Morocco’s proposed constitutional changes will set cases of reference to the rest of the Arab world, including its monarchies.

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Mohammed El-Katiri Senior Advisor, Conflict Studies Research Centre, Oxford, UK

Data de publicació: 06/2011

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