Is the six nation gulf union for prosperity of the people or the House of Saud? Unilateral control of the region by means of military operations ( aka defense) will oppress/control the people, not liberate the people.
Wary of Iran and regional protest movements, Gulf Arab states are pushing ahead with plans for a political union that would involve joint foreign and defense policies, the Saudi foreign minister said in a speech at the weekend.
The comments by Prince Saud al-Faisal come two weeks ahead of a summit of U.S.-aligned Gulf leaders in Riyadh that will review an outline for such a union after Saudi King Abdullah first floated the idea last December.
A Gulf-based Western diplomat said the proposal was driven mainly by Saudi fears that the restive Shi’ite Muslim majority in Bahrain could topple the island kingdom’s Sunni Muslim rulers. He said an announcement of progress on a federation between the two to launch the union could be made at the summit.
Shi’ite-led unrest is resurging in Bahrain a year after the ruling Al Khalifa family brought in Saudi and United Arab Emirates troops to help suppress an uprising seen by Gulf rulers as sectarian in nature and driven by Shi’ite giant Iran.
A visit this month by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the island of Abu Musa, also claimed by the United Arab Emirates as its own, has stoked the concern of conservative Gulf Arabs about Iranian influence in the oil-exporting region.
“Cooperation and coordination between the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in its current format may not be enough to confront the existing and coming challenges, which require developing Gulf action into an acceptable federal format,” Prince Saud said in a speech delivered on his behalf by his deputy to a GCC youth conference in Riyadh on Saturday.
“The Gulf union, when it is realized, God willing, will yield great benefits for its peoples, such as in foreign policy with the presence of a supreme Gulf committee coordinating foreign policy decisions that reorders group priorities and realizes group interests,” he said.
Gulf leaders fear Bahrain will fall into the orbit of anti-Western, clergy-ruled Iran if the Shi’ite opposition wins a stake in government and the Al Khalifa family, distant relatives of Saudi Arabia’s Al Saud, loses some of its extensive powers.
Bahraini security forces clash with Shi’ite protesters on most days in various areas of the country while opposition parties stage mass protests every week.
The opposition, led by the Shi’ite Islamist Wefaq party, denies Iran links, points to Sunnis and secularists in its ranks and says it only wants a say in how Bahrain is run.