Omani official dismisses ‘street talk’ of country leaving GCC

An official rejected rumors he described as ‘street talk’ that Oman was considering whether to vote to leave the GCC following Brexit

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A foreign ministry official recently rejected rumors he described as “street talk” that Oman was considering whether to vote to leave the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) following last week’s shock British vote to leave the European Union.

“This is street talk and not that of officials and politicians,” the official, who did not want to be named, told Kuwait’s Al-Rai newspaper in an interview published Monday. He said the spread of these rumors on social media was “intolerable.”

The rumors of Oman leaving the GCC took off after its foreign ministry on its official Twitter account hailed British people’s “courageous and historic decision” to exit the EU.

The ministry said the UK’s decision to leave is “explained by some as a decisive response to the [EU’s executive body] European Commission,” hinting of a desire to do the same on a regional level.

However, the official explained the foreign ministry’s tweets when he said these were tributes to British democracy.

“I assure the people of the GCC that any ideas concerning the disintegration of the GCC have not been discussed, and Gulf states are moving in the direction of unified processes and the strengthening of ties for the longer term,” he said.

Rumors spread on social media of Oman leaving the GCC in a referendum - a form of voting not yet seen in the monarchical Gulf states - were also supported by a former official urging his country to follow the UK’s footsteps.

Ishaq al-Siyabi, a former vice-chairman of Oman’s Shura Council, said on Saturday that Muscat must hold a similar referendum to decide its fate in the GCC.

“The GCC hasn’t achieved all the goals in the past years and the GCC people do not feel the direct results of that amid the security and political differences between the Gulf states,” he tweeted.

Siyabi’s tweet brought the wrath of several Saudi twitter users, including the well-known journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who is the director of the currently suspended al-Arab news channel.

On June 25, in response to Siyabi’s suggestion of a referendum in Oman, Khashoggi wrote on Twitter: “What’s the benefit of such talk now?”

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