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Saudi King Abdullah calls for unification, warns of "interventions".

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, in addressing members of the Supreme Council for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on Monday, called for moving beyond "a stage of cooperation to a stage of unification as one entity to achieve good and defend against evil," wrote the pan-Arab daily AL HAY AT Tuesday. The king was speaking at the 32nd annual GCC meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Leaders of the six Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, met behind closed doors following an opening session at Riyad's Diriya Palace. This marks the first GCC summit since the outbreak of the Arab Spring.

King Abdullah told GCC leaders "You know that our security and stability are targeted, so we must be responsible towards our religion and our countries." He added, "We must help our brothers in all that can achieve their hopes ... and spare them from the consequences of conflict and the risk of interventions." He also warned that history and experience have "taught us not to stand idly by."

Observers believe that Syria, Iran, Iraq and Yemen will dominate the discussions (see MER 19/12111). Others have speculated that membership for Jordan and Morocco into the GCC will be discussed, however Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled Al Khalifa informed AL HAYAT that neither the king of Jordan nor the king of Morocco was invited. However, he did say that there are expectations to publish and adopt a program to finance development in Morocco and Jordan over the course of five years.

The GCC summit comes as the embattled regime of Syria, rocked by a nine-month uprising the UN estimates has killed at least 5,000 people, agreed to an Arab League proposal to send observers to the country. In a clear reference to Syria, the Saudi king urged the Gulf bloc to help their "Arab brothers so that the blood stops flowing and to guard against the risks of foreign intervention."

In addition to Syria, the Gulf leaders will discuss the situation in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, where popular uprisings have already unseated entrenched dictators this year.

GCC member Bahrain was also hit by a month of protests that it crushed in March, with the aid of Saudi Arabia, while demonstrators in neighboring Yemen forced long-time President Ali Abdullah Saleh to sign a power transfer deal.

In Kuwait, the cabinet resigned last month over allegations of corruption and a new government was sworn in on Wednesday with only minor changes to the previous government.

They are also expected to discuss their fears of the growing influence of arch-foe Iran after the U.S. pullout from Iraq. The world's top oil exporter has accused Iran of backing an alleged plot uncovered in October by the United States to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington. That month its Interior Ministry also blamed an unnamed foreign power for instigating a violent attack on a police station by members of the kingdom's Shiite minority. Iran has denied the charges.
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Title Annotation:GCC-POLITICS
Publication:The Daily Middle East Reporter (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:7SAUD
Date:Dec 20, 2011
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