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11-06-2012 - Gulfnews

Oman’s foreign minister says there is no Gulf union

An Omani minister has ruled out any chance for the Gulf union, saying that it does not exist.

"There is no Gulf union," Yousuf Bin Alawi Bin Abdullah, the Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, said. "The commission to study the project no longer exists and the union exists now only among journalists," the minister said in response to a question about the progress of the union project, Omani Arabic daily Oman reported.

Bin Alawi's statement was published two days before the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) foreign ministers convened on Tuesday in the Red Sea resort of Jeddah to discuss the latest regional and international developments, including the Gulf union proposal.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud at the GCC summit in December called upon the members of the alliance formed in 1981 - Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE - to move from the phase of cooperation to the phase of union within a single entity.

Union necessary

King Abdullah said the union was a necessity for the GCC to confront increasing security threats and challenges.

The six countries said that they would follow up the proposal and set up a commission of representatives from each member state.

Excitement swelled up mainly in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia where media reports and official statements referred to a possible union between two or three countries to be announced at the GCC advisory summit in Riyadh in May.

However, the final communiqué said that more time was needed to study the proposal and that the announcement would be made at an extraordinary summit to be held in Riyadh.

Statements in Bahrain where the anticipation for the union reached zenith levels among supporters said that the union would be announced before the GCC leaders convene for their annual summit in Manama in December.

Project alive

The Manama reports said that Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar were fully for the union while Kuwait and the UAE had reservations about some issues and Oman showed no interest.

Reacting to Bin Alawi's statement on the end of the Gulf union idea, Abdul Khaleq Abdullah, a professor of political sciences in Dubai, said that the project was well alive.

"The project to form a Gulf union is alive and is being discussed with keenness at the highest levels in more than one Gulf capital. It is clear that Oman has decided that it is not concerned," he wrote on his Twitter account.

Salman Al Dossary, the editor-in-chief of the Riyadh-based Al Eqtisadia, said that the Omani statement was "critical."

"This is a critical statement, not in its significance, but in its contrast with the official statements issued by the GCC countries," he tweeted.


Other sources on GCC civil society and human rights