What will happen at the GCC Summit in Riyadh?

Hamood Abutalib

Published: Updated:

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz has requested that the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) invite their majesties and highnesses, the leaders of the GCC countries, to participate in the 41st GCC Summit to be held in Riyadh on January 5th, 2021. This confirms that the summit will indeed take place as planned and will not be postponed, dispelling doubts in this regard. Riyadh has always been keen to promote and strengthen coordination, understanding and cooperation between the GCC states.

But can we hope to see more of the same in this summit, which marks the start of the fifth decade of the GCC’s existence, given the strained relations between some of its member countries?

Logic would suggest that during the upcoming summit, GCC countries will be more keen than ever to consolidate gains as an important Gulf Arab bloc under unprecedented global political, economic and security challenges. If any GCC country believes that it can break off or enter into a different geopolitical accord, then this is a great delusion and a fatal strategic mistake that threatens the future of the GCC as a whole. Likewise, any disruption of the GCC’s aspiration for greater cohesion and its efforts to resolve differences between certain member countries will only make it more vulnerable to infiltration from other countries in the region that are keen to prevent its development and unity.

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Over the past 40 years, the GCC has achieved important gains, albeit falling short of the aspirations and expectations of the Gulf peoples. At the very least, it was able to survive a number of existential threats and weather many a political storm, but our current situation is radically different from any in the past. Today’s threats are greater, more dangerous, and accelerating in an alarming manner, which requires a strong, unified front on behalf of all GCC states. The obstacles that have hindered its path must be cleared, as the responsibility the GCC bears before its people is indeed a historic one.

This article was originally published in, and translated from, Saudi newspaper Okaz.

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