GCC vision for regional security unveiled for the first time

GCC vision for regional security unveiled for the first time

On Thursday, the GCC unveiled its vision for regional security for the first time in its 43-year history (File/AFP)
On Thursday, the GCC unveiled its vision for regional security for the first time in its 43-year history (File/AFP)
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On Thursday, the Gulf Cooperation Council unveiled its vision for regional security for the first time in its 43-year history. In the past, that vision was reflected in the communiques issued by the GCC heads of state at the conclusion of their annual summits. It has also informed the statements issued by the Ministerial Council, composed of the foreign ministers of the six member states, at the conclusion of their quarterly meetings.   

There have been attempts by outsiders to define regional security, often articulated in formulations that overlooked the centrality of the GCC itself to regional security and underestimated its agency to define the architecture of its own security. 

In addition to the published document, there is an underlying framework for regional security and a detailed accounting of security threats and challenges and how the GCC is facing them. They are reviewed regularly and updated, but are used as working internal documents. There are several dedicated bodies in the GCC military, security and political branches whose task is to monitor new developments and develop policy options, taking as inputs the views of each member state, to reach at common positions adopted collectively.

Besides the novelty of its publication, the new vision represents a substantive revision of earlier formulations, reflecting new internal and external developments since the last major revision.

The starting point of the vision is the centrality of the GCC to any regional security framework and of collective defense — that the security of GCC states is indivisible. The Joint Defense Treaty, concluded in 2000, stipulates that any attack against one GCC member state is an attack on all members, and a threat against one is a threat against all. 

Deterrence is another: The GCC states are actively reinforcing their capabilities to deter dangers and sources of threat against their security and territorial integrity and stand together against any aggression directed at any member state.

The GCC states are actively reinforcing their capabilities to deter dangers and sources of threat against their security and territorial integrity

Dr. Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg

In addition, GCC states play a pivotal role, when requested, in supporting the security of neighboring countries, and their political and economic stability. They believe in multilateralism and contributing a fair share in ensuring international peace and security, and the stability of the global economic order.

The guiding principles for the vision are based on those of international law, including the UN Charter, including respect for the sovereignty of states, non-interference in their internal affairs, as well as the principles of good neighborliness, refraining from the threat or use of force and resolving disputes through peaceful means.

The vision calls for building upon the GCC states’ growing role in resolving differences through negotiations, diplomacy and dialogue, and avoiding force or threats. It anticipates a more effective leadership role, providing good offices and supporting mediation efforts.

The objective of the newly formulated vision is clearly to preserve the security and stability of the GCC states and the prosperity of its people, but also to contribute significantly to regional and international peace and security. This means tackling regional challenges, transforming them into opportunities for development and prosperity, building the future through settling disagreements by peaceful means, and finding consensus-based solutions that ensure respect for the legitimate interests of all parties while avoiding polarization.

It also means building strategic partnerships to deal with regional and global sources of threat and tension, including through GCC states’ role in ensuring security of energy supplies and stability of oil markets, enhancing maritime security and freedom of navigation, and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

A clear objective is to address climate challenges and achieve environmental security and the Sustainable Development Goals. The vision recognizes the importance of securing and defending GCC states’ vital economic resources, creating investment opportunities to preserve their prosperous development trajectory, which has seen the combined GCC GDP growing from less than $200 billion to currently more than $2.2 trillion and social development indicators jumping to be among the highest in the world in one generation.

To bolster both their own economic development and regional prosperity, the vision calls for greater diversified strategic partnerships, which will contribute to sustainable peace, security and prosperity, regionally and internationally.

In addition to stating the guiding principles, the vision touches upon a number of key issues, providing insights into GCC policies, starting with the Palestine issue, a resolution of which is central to regional security. The war on Gaza has only reaffirmed this truism.

The vision includes important sections on non-proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction, and on combating terrorism and extremism, demanding the criminalization of all groups carrying out terrorist acts, irrespective of their political or religious affiliations, or ties to state institutions.

The new document calls for raising cybersecurity levels and countering cybercrime. Taking account of the GCC states’ role and recent challenges to energy security, it calls for additional efforts to ensure the stability of global energy markets serving the interests of both producers and consumers, while sparing the world from the negative effects of market fluctuations and disruptions to global supply chains. It called for avoiding the politicization of these issues and instead building bridges to address common challenges.

Reflecting the GCC’s growing role finding effective solutions to climate change challenges, the vision called for a realistic, responsible and balanced approach within the principles of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, and the need to make progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It called for the universal adoption of the circular carbon economy approach, which enhances the development of renewable energy resources and the optimized use of hydrocarbons, as a comprehensive and integrated framework to deal with emissions contributing to greenhouse effects, while preserving the natural environment, raising the level of vegetation cover, and increasing reliance on clean technologies for all energy sources.

As water scarcity and creeping desertification represent existential regional threats, the vision stressed the need for greater efforts in finding sustainable solutions to tackle them and safeguard global food supply chains and price stability.

Strengthening the GCC’s collective capabilities has been the main instrument in the past to face security and economic challenges. The new vision adds an emphasis on regional and international partnerships to safeguard shared strategic interests, including maritime security. It calls for exerting effective and integrated efforts to preserve regional and international security and stability, address chronic crises, and establish new platforms for mediation and direct negotiations to bridge differences.

  • Dr. Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg is the Gulf Cooperation Council assistant secretary-general for political affairs and negotiation. The views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily represent the GCC. X: @abuhamad1
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