The Gulf Cooperation Council, which was established in 1981, has proved to be a very beneficial alliance for its six member states. Owing to its success, there have been proposals by some member states for the alliance to be strengthened by transforming it into a Gulf Union. I am of the opinion that the move to create a Gulf Union would be very beneficial since it would promote the security and economic well-being of the member countries.
The security of the Gulf States will be improved by the formation of a Union. The unification will enable the member countries to form a formidable military alliance that will be used to protect the interests of the union in the region. The GCC countries have traditionally relied on the US to provide for their security needs in the region. However, the US has, in recent years, started to express a growing desire to avoid active engagement in the Middle East region. The Gulf nations, therefore, need to come up with their own effective military strategy. A union would provide the GCC nations with the manpower and resources necessary to develop a strong military.
The union would increase the international influence of the GCC by ensuring that the bloc adopts and implements a unified foreign policy. As it currently stands, the various member states have diverging foreign policies. This lack of cohesive policies has reduced the regional and international power of the bloc. With the formation of a union, the Gulf States would have to present uniform foreign policies. Such policies would increase the influence of the GCC in regional and international affairs.
The transformation into a Gulf Union would promote further economic cooperation among the nations. As it currently stands, the trade ties among the Gulf countries are weak in spite of the attempts by the GCC to remove trade barriers. A Gulf Union would have greater powers to implement customs union and remove all barriers to trade. This would promote economic growth by creating a truly common market in the region.
As a Union, the GCC countries would easily implement monetary union. Monetary union would have major advantages for the Gulf States. It would eliminate the need to exchange currencies between members, resulting in more rapid economic and financial integration, and facilitate trade in both goods and services. In addition to this, the monetary union would eliminate volatilities among the currencies of the member states, therefore, promoting regional trade.
A key setback of the Gulf Union proposal is that it would require the GCC countries to compromise on their sovereignty. This consideration has acted as a major hindrance to the union plans as most nations wish to preserve their sovereignty. However, the formation of a Gulf Union would not require the nations to give up all their sovereignty. The compromise on sovereignty would be a small sacrifice for the benefits that the union would offer the Gulf Countries.