Before he was declared king and before he was named crown prince, King Salman bin Abdulaziz was known for handling Gulf affairs in the Saudi government. He knows the Gulf well, its countries, royals, government, people and history. He also knows about their affairs and about bilateral and mutual relations. Although relations between Gulf Cooperation Council member states are close due to what they have in common, these relations do require a sensitive approach.
Most GCC member states are aware of the transformations in the region, of the threats resulting from them and of the problems of international relations with concerned countries. They are also aware of the issues which pose difficulties for their economies, their governments’ budgets and their domestic and foreign commitments, especially following the collapse of oil prices and the overflow of production which once again threatens revenues and their political clout.
King Salman’s tour of the Gulf, which included four capitals, and his participation in the Gulf Summit in Bahrain are both a bid to improve relations - something the Gulf region needs. The stability of the Middle East is mainly the responsibility of Gulf countries which are a major party in many of the region’s crises. The significance of Gulf countries is a lot bigger than the size of its citizen populations and these states currently play a balancing role in the region amid the absence of traditional Arab powers. Gulf countries are trying to fill the vacuum which resulted from the revolutions and chaos of the Arab Spring as they are now the only standing pillars of the region, especially since everyone is preoccupied with the struggle of survival.
The most important project for Riyadh is to resume convincing the group of Gulf states to work together to confront IranAbdulrahman al-Rashed