"We’ll form a Gulf Union without Oman": Saudi prince

At least four GCC states to push ahead with union proposal, while UAE is yet to decide whether it’ll join
By Courtney Trenwith
Mon 09 Dec 2013 11:31 AM

At least four Gulf states will move ahead with plans to form a union despite Oman declaring it would not participate, Saudi Prince Turki Al Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, chairman of the King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies said.

Four of the six Gulf Cooperation Council members – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain – have expressed support for Saudi King Abdullah’s idea to transform the GCC into a union, which would possibly bring the members’ economies and security closer together.

The sixth GCC member, the UAE, is yet to formally make a decision.

Omani Foreign Affairs Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdulla said on Saturday his country would withdraw from the GCC if it became a union.

The Gulf was not under imminent threat of a military attack and therefore Oman could not justify greater security cooperation, he said.

“We will not prevent a union, but if it happens we will not be part of it,” Alawi told AFP.

If the proposal went ahead, “we will simply withdraw” from the new body, he said.

"We do not want to be part of the GCC union as it is not feasible to us," he said.

"We just can't do it. There are other important issues that require to be addressed such as economic integration that will bring prosperity to its people and [the] unemployment issue.

"The perception that GCC countries face imminent threat is myopic.”

However, on Sunday, Prince Turki said plans for the union would continue without Oman.

"Oman has every right to express its opinion and nothing is going to prevent this from happening," Prince Turki said in Manama.

"Most people in the GCC want a Gulf Union and we are working closely on this.

"Oman can join now or at a later stage as it is up to them to decide."

Bahrain strongly supports a union and Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa said it had become a matter of urgency and necessity.

In a statement on Sunday he said a GCC union was the “only tool” that could ensure security, peace and stability in the Gulf, and deal with disparities and political differences between countries.

"The Cabinet stressed that the challenges the GCC countries are facing confirm the necessity and urgency to establish the GCC union and recognise this as the best strategic option in the face of threats and risks confronting the Gulf states,” Prince Khalifa said in a statement.

GCC secretary-general Dr Abdullatif Al Zayani also said Oman's opposition would not prevent the other five states from forming a union.

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