Oman opposes Gulf union

1 / 2
2 / 2
Updated 28 December 2013
0

Oman opposes Gulf union

MUSCAT: Oman opposes upgrading the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to a union of six nations, Muscat’s foreign minister said on Saturday.
The union issue is on the agenda of the GCC summit to be held on Tuesday in Kuwait.
“We are against a union,” Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi said at the Manama Dialogue in Bahrain.
The annual forum on security is also being attended by senior world officials including British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel.
Alawi was speaking after Saudi Assistant Foreign Minister Nizar Madani in a speech called on Gulf states to unify against dangers in the region.
“We will not prevent a union, but if it happens we will not be part of it,” Alawi told AFP on the sidelines of the gathering.
If the five other GCC members — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar — decide to form a union, “we will simply withdraw” from the new body, he said.
Saudi Arabia’s idea of upgrading the GCC was first proposed in 2011 and supported by Bahrain. But because of reservations by some members, it was put on hold.
Kuwait and Qatar have since expressed their backing, but the UAE’s position on the proposal is not known.
Formed in 1981 as a buffer against Iran across the Gulf, the GCC states sit on around 40 percent of proven global crude reserves and around 25 percent of natural gas deposits.


Fallen Tunisian autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali dies

Updated 1 min 46 sec ago

Fallen Tunisian autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali dies

TUNIS: Tunisia's ousted autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali died on Thursday, days after a free presidential election in his homeland, his family lawyer said.

“Ben Ali just died,” the lawyer, Mounir Ben Salha, told Reuters by phone.

Ben Ali fled Tunisia in January 2011 as his compatriots rose up against his oppressive rule in a revolution that inspired other Arab Spring uprisings abroad and led to a democratic transition at home.

On Sunday, Tunisians voted in an election that featured candidates from across the political spectrum, sending two political outsiders through to a second round vote unthinkable during Ben Ali's own era of power.

However, while they have enjoyed a much smoother march to democracy than citizens of the other Arab states that also rose up in 2011, many of them are economically worse off than they were under Ben Ali.

While almost all the candidates in Sunday's election were vocal champions of the revolution, one of them, Abir Moussi, campaigned as a supporter of Ben Ali's ousted government, receiving 4 percent of the votes.