Member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), led by Bahrain, have declined to offer Iraq an immediate path to membership of the body that carries substantial economical and political clout in the region, bu
t the question needs to be asked, does Iraq really need to be a member of the GCC?
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates proposed the idea in Manama, Bahrain, last weekend.
Addressing the Manama Dialogue, Gates suggested that Iraq should be included in regional organizations in order to help bolster its rehabilitation.
“If you look closely at Iraq’s economic and political potential, about what it can offer the Middle East, you will see that it is in everyone’s strategic interests to support the new government and the people of Iraq in whatever way you can.
“Iraq can only play a constructive role in this region if it is on an equal footing diplomatically, which also requires its government to take proactive steps, such as continuing to appoint its own ambassadors,” Gates said.
“Regional engagement also means that Iraq should be included in regional forums for economic and security cooperation, and considered for membership in Middle East organizations,” he added.
This is not the first time that the U.S. has sought to tie Iraq to the GCC, but this latest call comes at a time when violence is low and the economic opportunities on offer are leading the war torn country to be labeled an ‘emerging market’ like its Gulf neighbours. It also comes on the back of the recently signed agreement that will see U.S. force leave the country by the end of 2011, thus removing a significant obstacle to warmer Arab relations with Baghdad. Read More