Political analysts and academicians found that GCC countries need to unite to protect their security in the face of challenges presented by Iran’s threat to the region, and the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and the Arab Quartet. The panelists stressed the importance of the Gulf countries adopting a more unified and cohesive common approach, beyond the economic sphere.

This was at the first panel of the fourth Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate, titled “Gulf Security: Issues and Scenarios”. The participants were: His Excellency Abdullah Bishara, President of the Diplomatic Center for Strategic Studies in Kuwait, Dr. Abdulkhaleq Abdullah, academician and researcher in Arab Gulf affairs, Dr. Ayed Al-Manna, academician and political researcher, Salem Alyami, political analyst.

H.E. Bishara stressed that the Gulf Cooperation Council was founded on a collective will; however, it has not yet risen to global and regional expectations. He added that GCC countries sought economic integration, but each country remained on its own path in the spheres of politics, diplomacy and security. “Till this moment, the council has not yet built a real deterrent power,” H.E. said.

Bishara stated that the Gulf Cooperation Council needs to change its charter to become stronger, and there needs to be a new format to the council so it can transform into a “union”.

Dr. Abdulkhaleq agreed, stating that GCC countries have not yet succeeded in building a system for Gulf security, and found Iran to be one of the main obstacles to achieving that goal. In that regard, Dr. Al-Manna said that GCC countries must build a military force to confront challenges, specifically from Iran.

Alyami pointed out that the greater part of Gulf security isn’t provided from within the GCC, rather from other countries, and that security is closely tied to these countries’ military perspective, and aims to accomplish the goals of Western power-players rather than benefit the countries of the region.

The panellists also discussed the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and the Arab Quartet – Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, & Egypt. They all agreed that the crisis hurt the Gulf Cooperation Council. H.E. Bishara said the crisis “paralyzed” the council, and found no alternative solution to the crisis other than dialogue and the mediation efforts led by Kuwait’s Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

Dr. Abdulkhaleq, however, said that boycotting Qatar should continue despite the consequences and the cost resulting from it, because it should not be allowed to continue “undermining” the policies of the rest of the countries in the region.

Alyami found that the Qatar crisis exposed the “huge flaw” in the GCC, however, it provided an opportunity in the Saudi-Emirati cohesion which can improve the Khaleeji organization.

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