Egypt's potential membership to GCC met with mixed reaction

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When a Kuwaiti official said Egypt was a candidate for accession to the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) last week, the announcement was met with mixed reaction from a wide range of Egyptians.

Humoud al-Radhwan, head of the Gulf Co-operation Council Directorate for the Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Kuwait's al-Anbaa daily on Sunday (December 11th) that Egypt is on the list of potential countries to join the GCC.

Some analysts said GCC membership would provide a boost for the Egyptian economy and affirm the country's role as a regional leader, while others rejected accession because of social, cultural, and political implications.

Dr. Wael Mounir, a professor of international politics at the University of Ain Shams, told Al-Shorfa Egypt's possible GCC membership is nothing new since Egypt sought to join the council 15 years ago in an observer capacity, but the request was rejected by Gulf countries.

He said this year Bahrain also announced its support for Egypt's candidacy in the GCC.

"The issue has been under discussion behind the political scenes and was only made public in a semi-official way to gauge the response in Egyptian political and public spheres to determine whether there is support for the idea," Mounir said.

Military, economic benefits

"The accession would strengthen Egypt's security and military capabilities and that of the Gulf states, and increase intelligence sharing and development of military systems. Egypt is fairly advanced on the military and tactical levels, and the Egyptian Army has proven more than once, especially during the Kuwait War, that it possesses superior desert warfare capability," he said.

Mounir said Egypt's accession to the GCC would create a new powerful and unified Arab-Gulf front to repel any attempts at destabilisation.

Dr. Hamed Magdi, a professor of economics at al-Azhar University, said joining the GCC is squarely in Egypt's interests, especially at this critical period for the economy.

"Egypt will benefit from the increased capital because of a higher volume of foreign investment, the deployment of large numbers of Egyptian workers to the Gulf and the expansion of trade between the two sides because of the lack of barriers and customs restrictions," he said.

Magdi said membership would also benefit other fields such as scientific research, technology, and agriculture where Egypt has thousands of factories, existing infrastructure and a deep labour pool, which offers the potential for export to the Gulf.

"Inclusion [in the GGC] will provide an opportunity for Egyptian banks to expand worldwide because Gulf banks enjoy high credit ratings," he said.

The volume of trade between Egypt and GCC countries was valued at more than $2.5 billion during the first six months of 2011, according to a November report by the Egyptian Ministry of Commerce. Saudi Arabia was the top trade partner with a total trade volume of $1.4 billion including $728 million in Egyptian exports and $672 million in imports from Saudi Arabia.

Serious obstacles

Dr. Wafa Mohsen, a professor of political media at the University of October, said, "The entire affair is no more than a political manoeuvre because there are many obstacles in the way of accession, especially at this time."

Mohsen said Egypt's transitional phase could last at least two years, which would preclude the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the Advisory Council, and the government of Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri from presenting a resolution to join the GCC.

"Internal issues, constitutional amendments, and laws are the top priorities for Egypt. If the accession comes to pass it would have a broad impact on many fronts because Egypt's political and economic alliances and relationships with many countries would have to be reconfigured," she said.

Mohsen said if the issue was put to a vote, Egyptians would decline to join regardless of the potential economic gains because the societies and customs are different.

"Egyptians refuse to become second-class citizens after the January revolution, which is what will happen if Egypt joins the GCC because Gulf citizens will view Egyptians as second-class Gulf citizens, and that is something Egyptians will certainly reject," she said.

Mohsen said talk of accession would be replaced by a package of agreements with GCC countries outlining co-operation on intelligence, finance, politics, and media to address future challenges and safeguard Gulf countries against adverse events in the region.

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    حازم

    2012-1-23

    The main objective of the expansion of the Gulf Cooperation Council, through the inclusion of Jordan and Morocco and the invitation to Egypt to join the Council, is primarily to cope with the risks and challenges represented by Iran at the present time. This country is seeking to promote its influence in the region through the implementation of the expansion program, which is called “the exportation of the Iranian revolution.” This program was launched by Khomeini during the eighties of the last century. It is obvious that this program means intervention in the internal affairs of other countries, especially Iran's neighbors, which are loyal to it religiously. I believe that this is a mere conspiracy, because the revolutions and coups cannot be exported from one country to another. At the present time, we are living in an era of democracy and freedom, not in a time of armed uprisings. However, Iran still believes in those methods and seeks to apply them in other countries, despite the rejection of all peoples of such a logic that is not consistent with the reality faced by people at the present time.

  • اسامة شاهين

    2012-1-10

    The Persian Gulf countries have huge oil reserves and material possibilities that have ensured their prosperity. Indeed, the Persian Gulf countries have become an economic power, especially after these states formed the Gulf Cooperation Council. The significant economic power of these states drew the attention of the whole world. In fact, all countries are trying to establish investments and business dealings. Today, the Middle East, especially the Arab region, is experiencing a lot of turning points, challenges and events that oblige the Gulf States to be ready to face them all. In this respect, the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council are seeking to develop their human and military potential, in order to develop their ability to confront any of the risks that threaten the domestic security and stability of the region. Therefore, the leaders of the Persian Gulf countries are seeking to expand the Gulf Cooperation Council to include Morocco, Egypt and Jordan, in order to increase the security and military capabilities of the Gulf countries. In fact, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco are Arab states which have a lot of military and security potential and capabilities that could enhance the military might of the Gulf countries and develop their potential in this field. Meanwhile, the Gulf States need to address the potential threats that some neighboring countries might pose. On the other hand, the Gulf States could benefit from the manpower of these Arab countries in construction, reconstruction and the establishment of projects. Indeed, they would benefit from their experience. The leaders of the Gulf are seeking to strengthen the Gulf Cooperation Council at all levels, including the military and the expertise that can be learned from Egypt, Morocco and Jordan.

  • مراد صادق

    2012-1-10

    The accession of Egypt to the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council, or GCC, is one of the pros and inevitable necessities in this difficult period in the history of the Gulf States. I personally support Egypt's accession to the GCC, because it would serve the interests of both parties. In fact, Egypt is a military force, which could strengthen the military field in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Egypt could also provide the GCC with a workforce, which could benefit the Gulf countries through their experience. The Gulf countries had better rely on Egyptian expertise and manpower instead of foreign ones. Besides, this would contribute to the recovery of Egypt’s economy. Thus, Egypt's accession will have a lot of advantages for both Egypt and the Gulf Cooperation Council, or GCC. In fact, I wish the best to both parties. I believe that the accession of Egypt will send many messages for the interest of both Egypt and the Gulf Cooperation Council. The latter would become more powerful at all levels. I do support any kind of rapprochement among the Arab countries, because this would have many positive impacts on the Arab citizens, who are looking for stability in all domains. Indeed, the Arab citizens want to live in security and stability. Therefore, the unification of the positions would help meet the external challenges faced by all the Arab countries at this critical period of our history, which requires an Arab consensus.

  • نبيل امير

    2012-1-10

    Today, Egypt is among the most powerful countries in the region, in many aspects through which the Persian Gulf could witness more stability. In fact, today Egypt is a great nation in the Arab region, and it could play an important role in the balance of power in the Middle East and the Gulf States. The latter represent an economic power that could rescue the domestic situation. However, these nations do not have great military power, because of the lack of a large population and expertise in this field. Meanwhile, the Arab region is witnessing a lot of developments, and perhaps the threats that we hear of from time to time are addressed to the Gulf States. Today, these countries are in dire need of a partnership with Egypt, in order to be integrated in all aspects and sectors, including military, economic, development and human resources.

  • حسين

    2012-1-10

    The objectives are very clear through the invitation that was sent to the Gulf leaders and the Arab countries that play a significant role in the hot Arab cases, to join the GCC in order to prevent any inferences or influences on the Arab affairs in general and the Gulf affairs in particular. That is because all people realize that some regional countries are trying to impose hegemony over Arab policies in the region, because of its strategic importance. Hence, these countries seek to control this region and impose their agendas on its countries. This has caused the GCC countries to think about widening the council and offering aid to the other Arab states. Hence, they invited Jordan and Egypt in the central Arab world, and Morocco at the other end of the Arab world, to control the Arab world and make these new and old governments enter into agreements to maintain the security and sovereignty of the Arab Gulf and the Arab world. They also seek to create larger entities and end their isolation, which allowed these countries to make great achievements in the past. However, the current period necessitates openness to the whole Arab world on the part of the Gulf States, which should open the doors to more cooperation and joint projects with the other states. This also requires the establishment of a joint defense force to defend all the states of the council and to benefit from the military power of Egypt, Jordan and Morocco, to allow the council to spread throughout the Arab world and to prevent the others from controlling these countries or benefiting from the recent changes in the Arab world in imposing their policies and agendas.

  • حميدوووو

    2012-1-10

    The relationships among the Gulf States are strong, and they play a significant role in protecting the sovereignty of the Gulf States and securing them, given the strong military forces that they have. I think that both parties would fulfill their purposes if Egypt agreed to join the GCC. However, some countries reject this, because the name of the council suggests that it is limited to the Gulf States, which share in their traditions. Nevertheless, I call on them to consider the issue from the perspective of the supreme Arab interests of all parties as a result of this wide council. It must be noted that the benefits would not be confined to one side, but they would include the Egyptian people and the Gulf peoples, especially given that there are other countries that have joined the GCC, such as Jordan and Morocco. This proves that this is a necessary and successful step that will open the door for other Arab countries to join it.

  • واسط

    2012-1-4

    Egypt's accession to the Gulf Cooperation Council is a good thing and a positive sign. In fact, this could improve the situation of Egypt, especially since this nation has witnessed difficult and painful times. Egypt is in dire need of support, help and guidance on the appropriate way. The Egyptian people want to achieve positive results. Therefore, they need to restore cooperation and agreements and to improve their situation through the support and assistance of states which have the ability to provide all the best. This will contribute to improving the situation and to attracting other Arab countries that wish to join, in order to consolidate unity, foster cooperation, and to achieve rapprochement and convergence among Arabs. Indeed, many Arab peoples are going through dire conditions. This applies to any Arab nation.

  • معاذ بندول

    2012-1-3

    Egypt’s joining the GCC is a very important matter and this gives it a greater opportunity to be among the countries that are associated with the GCC, like Jordan and Morocco. The GCC has accepted Egypt to join it, because it has important strategic locations and it has the greatest experience in many fields, in addition to its strategic location among the Arab countries. Those countries which join the GCC stand more firmly and are better able to respond to Iranian pressures. Iran has a lot of interferences between the Arabs, especially in what it carries out in terms of actions with Iraq. The Arab countries do not want to be like Iraq; they want to work so as to resist Iran and its interests towards the Arabs. Egypt is one of the countries which have great qualifications; this will raise its level more and more than before. It has the strength which makes it one of the best Arab countries. The Gulf countries are cooperative in many matters of an economic and political nature. Therefore, Egypt wants to be one of those stronger countries on earth, and they deserve that, because Egypt has struggled for everything, so as to always be the best. It managed to resist the greatest tyrant, who brought about severe conditions in the country, and who was working for his own interest. In my opinion, Egypt will be easily able to join the GCC, and it will be better than before, and it will add more strength to its own.

  • تامر جمال

    2012-1-3

    Egypt is actually plagued by poverty, especially in disadvantaged areas where people cannot afford to eat. They even spend the night in the streets or under bridges. There are thousands of children who do not attend school because they fear the heinous acts that occur in the educational institutions. In fact, the quality of education is poor. Children learn deviant things which are not compatible with our religion.

  • مصري محتار وطافش

    2012-1-3

    Egypt is begging… LOL…Long live the Gulf Union, Jordan, Morocco and Pakistan. The Gulf Union is supporting its allies in Jordan, Morocco and Pakistan! We are also increasing our influence in Yemen, Egypt, Libya, the Arab world and the Muslim world! Riyadh, Amman, Rabat and Islamabad, the world's future capitals! We are making partnerships with China, India, Russia, Japan, South Korea, the United States, the European Union, Brazil, the major Islamic forces and the world!

  • احمد منسى محمد

    2011-12-31

    The issue is no more than joint interests. However, if this is for the sake of the joint national Arab work, then there is no harm, because the Gulf people look at the Egyptians as if they are inferior people. This is unacceptable to the people, and it is illogical historically. Egypt is a rich country and its people are great. Egypt has a great history and civilization. May God curse Hosni Mubarak and his stinky gang that led Egypt to this abyss. We are full of hope and trust in God, and then in the children of Egypt, who will restore the status of Egypt as the beacon to all the Arabs.

  • انور مهران

    2011-12-31

    O God! Help us to take a preliminary step towards the establishment of the joint Arab market.

  • سمير عصام

    2011-12-30

    A State would not manage to adjust priorities and plan future policies unless it appoints a Head of State and a stable government. In fact, we notice a contradiction in the political and economic statements, in addition to divergent views. Every day, we hear about a new minister, only to learn, after a short time, that he resigned or was dismissed or undesired. Egypt needs to restore stability and maintain security and support tourism, industry, exports and investors before it asks for aid. Authorities should not rush to expel investors and confiscate their money. They had better show patience and work quietly till we reach stability in the financial and economic situations and overcome the transitional phase.

  • saif

    2011-12-29

    We are waiting for the major Arab unity, because this is the real strength.

  • نور باسل

    2011-12-27

    We wish that there could be adherence to duty, performing the tasks, working on eliminating everything that the Egyptian people reject, and providing them everything that they need in terms of services, and the elimination of the cases of unemployment, as well as providing job opportunities. There should also be stipends allocated for all the poor Egyptian families, and a living should be provided for everyone. Also, moral and administrative corruption should be eliminated, along with all the other aspects and types of corruption. In addition, ignorance, illiteracy and backwardness should be eliminated, and Egypt should be completely, comprehensively and radically changed, so that the Egyptian people could feel a great transformation in everything for the better, God willing. This of course will happen through the cooperation which should take place between the Egyptian people, whether they are sectarians or Islamists. That is because those who want the good of Egypt and the public interest, which includes everyone, will not wait to sit in the seat of authority so as to perform their duty. The real person is the one who performs his duty while he is in his rightful place, and does not to wait until he is sitting in the highest position, so as to oppress and control and to work in accordance with what he wants. The real loyal people are those who want the good of the Egyptian people, and they work so as to promote what is good and to serve everyone, not to serve their own interests. It is very important not to blind the sights and the hearts when the candidates sit on the ruling chair, so that the Egyptian people will not regret what they have carried out.