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Challenges facing GCC summit in Riyadh

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By Khalid AL Jaber
The GCC summit to be held in Riyadh this week comes at a critical time for our region. The Yemen crisis is still going on, airstrikes have not stopped even after the end of Decisive Storm Operation, and the news of an Iran nuclear agreement is causing a wave of concern and Gulf leaders are looking forward to their meeting with Barack Obama at Camp David. These issues have a direct impact on GCC states, while crises in other Arab countries too have fallouts which require an urgent response.

There is a fear of growing Iranian influence in the region. In Sana’a, people were expecting Iran to create a situation very similar to what happened in Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut by stirring political turmoil, chaos, and endless sectarian conflicts.

A major challenge facing the GCC is how to find a peaceful solution that restores security and stability and bring legitimacy back to Yemen.

On the Iran nuclear agreement, the GCC states want guarantees, not assurances, from the US and Europe that Iran will not pose a threat to their security and stability now and in future. The West needs to take practical steps to end Iran’s nuclear capabilities to prevent the region from sliding into a nuclear and military race.

Other issues on the table for the GCC leaders include containing the armed terrorist groups in Iraq, Syria and Maghreb like ISIS, Al Qaeda and the Hezbollah. All these challenges require a wider GCC-Arab cooperation.

The summit outcome and prioritizing of issues will help the Gulf states in their forthcoming negotiations with the US. We expect to see agreements to maintain stability and security in the region and not further escalation.

The Peninsula