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GCC marks 33rd anniversary, vows better ties

GCC’s deputy secretary-general for legal affairs, expressed hope that a Saudi initiative to turn the GCC into a union would ‘see the light’

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The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) marked this week its 33th anniversary, with its head expressing hope for improved ties between member states of the regional group, Al Arabiya News channel reported Tuesday.

“The [Gulf Cooperation] council has been linking parts of the region in the most difficult conditions,” said Dr. Abdul Latif bin Rashid al Zayani, the GCC’s secretary-general.

The official noted GCC member states had succeeded in working together at the economic, military and political levels.

“The Gulf [Cooperation] Council, which met the expectations of GCC nationals, hopes to achieve even more success in the future to ensure stability and security in the region,” he added.

Formed in 1981 as a buffer against Shiite-dominated Iran, the mainly Sunni GCC states sit on around 40 percent of proven global crude reserves and around 25 percent of natural gas deposits.

Meanwhile, Hamad al-Mara, the GCC’s deputy secretary-general for legal affairs, expressed hope that a Saudi initiative to turn the GCC into a union would “see the light.”

“We hope the initiative will see the light, especially with the backing of some Gulf countries regarding the move,” al-Mara said.

“The move, from a cooperation to a union, was a proposal initiated by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to strengthen the ties between parts of the regions,” al-Mara added.

Riyadh’s idea of upgrading the GCC to a union was first put forward in 2011 and supported by Bahrain.

However, the proposal was met with reservation by some member states and Muscat bluntly rejected the idea in Dec. 2013.