Gulf leaders set to announce union plan
Riyadh, May 13, 2012
Gulf Arab leaders meeting on Monday are expected to announce closer political union, starting with two or three countries including Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, a government minister in Bahrain said.
Leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which also includes Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE and Oman, are to meet in Riyadh as they grow increasingly concerned over Iran and Al Qaeda after the Arab uprisings.
Local newspapers have reported that Saudi Arabia might initially seek closer union with Bahrain.
'I expect there will be an announcement of two or three countries. We can't be sure but I have a strong expectation,' Samira Rajab, Minister of State for Information Affairs, said on Sunday.
'Sovereignty will remain with each of the countries and they would remain as UN members but they would unite in decisions regarding foreign relations, security, military and economy.'
Saudi Arabia wants Bahrain's government and opposition to resolve the political crisis. Both countries have accused Iran of fomenting the violence on the streets of Bahrain and of instigating protests among Saudi Arabia's Shi'ite minority. Tehran denies the charges.
Rajab said, however, that there were reservations among some GCC members over the idea of a closer union, and that it was too early to say if any agreement taken among Gulf leaders would require a referendum in Bahrain or not.
Some members of the GCC fear a closer union might grant too much sway to the body's largest member, Saudi Arabia.
Gulf leaders also fear the Arab Spring uprisings last year created more opportunities for Al Qaeda to gain a foothold in Yemen, where the discovery of another alleged bomb plot was revealed last week. - Reuters