GCC and Political Divide: An Analysis of Potentials and Risks
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) since its establishment in 1981 has made tremendous achievements over the past forty years in economic, social, military, scientific and educational sectors which made the body to think about moving towards a "Gulf Union"- a higher level of accomplishment and solidarity, after the model of European Union. Indeed, following the successful formation of the EU by the beginning of the 21st century the GCC accelerated its higher level unification process through active consideration of Customs Union (2003), Common Market (2007) and Monetary Union or Common Currency (2010). However, the promising prospect of Gulf Union has suffered a serious backlash of political divide among the member countries. Regional and extra-regional forces have generated political rivalry among member countries since 2014 which has been aggravated and reinforced by other recent political development such as the so-called Arab Spring, 'Islamic terrorism', rise of ISIL, cutting-off diplomatic ties, and imposing economic blockade on a particular member state. These developments have polarized the community socially, economically and politically. Observing these developments this paper advances three arguments. Firstly, political divide among member countries works as a stronger force against an effective GCC than the regional unifying factors. Secondly, if narrow political interests are given priority over other wider socio-economic interests then the GCC risks continuous political instability. And finally, internal political divide may provide opportunity to regional and extra-regional non-member countries to exploit and work against the GCC potentials. Based on primary and secondary data this paper follows qualitative research methods and trend analysis.