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Rajeh Khoury, a political analyst with the opposition newspaper AN NAHAR, described the summit meeting of the leaders of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that began in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on Monday as "a decisive summit" in the national history of Gulf states. "The Gulf Cooperation Council summit, which began in Riyadh yesterday (Monday), was not only held ahead of the New Year, but also above a tsunami of major events at the Arab and international levels. For this reason, observers agree that it is a decisive summit in the national and pan-Arab history of Gulf states," Khoury said in his column on Tuesday.

"The GCC has emerged as a coherent regional order that has played an effective and influential role in the latest developments, especially in Bahrain, Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria. But the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is the cornerstone of the Gulf order, wants the GCC to constitute a united and strong framework that protects not only the interests of its states against growing challenges, but also safeguards security and stability in the region, especially since we are now in a changing world that requires a strong, deterrent and effective presence of GCC states," Khoury said.

He referred to the GCC's defense ministers who called in their last meeting to bolster the "Peninsula Shield" forces, "whose strength is increasingly needed amid challenges and Iranian interference in Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom's eastern province, and now in Iraq following the U.S. withdrawal."

In a speech opening the annual GCC summit, Saudi King Abdullah called for the formation of a Gulf union in response to growing threats, as rulers of the wealthy Arab GCC met on Monday against a backdrop of regional turmoil and fears over Iran. "I ask today that we move from a phase of cooperation to a phase of union within a single entity," Abdullah said. He did not elaborate on what form such a union might take, or any proposed steps to create it.
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Publication:The Daily Middle East Reporter (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Dec 20, 2011
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