The governments of the Gulf are discussing transforming the current Gulf Cooperation Council into an EU-style union. The move comes in an atmosphere of uncertainty and tension caused by the Arab uprisings and Iran's growing influence. As a first step, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain might seek closer union.
Full discussions of the issue have been delayed until December.
GCC civil society groups have requested that their governments postpone the move and engage their people through a referendum. Iran has called for rallies against the proposed union of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain which it describes as an annexation of Bahrain (and its comments were in turn protested by Bahrain).
Across the Gulf concern has been expressed regarding the plans for a union.
Aiyah Saihati, a Saudi blogger and entrepreneur, slammed the plan:
Saudi’s attempt to create a union for the purpose of countering Iran, which is not a threat, is only to enhance the sectarian narrative. Shifting the narrative from democratization to a sectarian frame changes how potential protests in the country are handled. The smaller countries with denser resources are ahead of Saudi in some of aspects of development and already have partially and soon fully elected parliaments. Uniting with Saudi just means inheriting its dogmas and problems. It means diluting dense resources over a larger more problematic constituency as well as diluting power per square area if one considers the total area governed by Al-Saud. If I were Qatar, why would I dive in?
Kuwaiti Ghassan El-Wagayan tweeted:
@Ghassanw: Thank you but NOOOOOO thank you
In Bahrain, Ali Al Saeed asked:
@alialsaeed: Oh no, women drive in #Bahrain? How can there be a union with #saudi? Ban female drivers?! #GCCunion
Kuwaiti Mishal Al Mutire expressed his concerns:
Bahraini journalist Wafa Alamm wrote:
Journalist Mohammad Albaghli questioned the feasibility of the move:
Madawi Al Rasheed, a Saudi professor of social anthropology, tweeted: