Gulf summit to discuss oil prices, Yemen, Syria
10 December 2015, Nirapad News: Gulf leaders have met for an annual summit in the face of plunging oil revenues, the war in Yemen and pressure for peace in Syria.
The kings and emirs, gathering in Saudi Arabia, are expected to voice support for a bid to unify Syria’s opposition at separate talks due to get under way on the same day in Riyadh.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit also comes days before warring factions from Yemen are to gather in Switzerland in an effort to end a costly war that has drawn in Gulf nations.
The GCC brings together Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, whose leaders will hold two days of talks in the Saudi capital.
But despite the urgency of the challenges facing the six countries, analysts say the Gulf leaders will struggle to find common ground at the gathering.
‘This summit comes as the Gulf is witnessing one of its most critical years,’ said Farea al-Muslimi, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center.
He sees ‘internal disagreement’ among the Gulf states as they face complicated economic and security challenges.
These include greater worries about Iran after a July deal that will ease sanctions on the predominantly Shia nation, including its oil sector, in return for restrictions on its nuclear facilities.
Iran and Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia are rivals for regional influence in Yemen, Syria and elsewhere.
‘The main challenge facing the GCC summit is, as usual, trying to ensure a united front on the major strategic challenges in the region,’ said Neil Partrick, author of a forthcoming book on Saudi foreign policy.
The summit coincides with Saudi Arabia’s hosting – also on Wednesday and Thursday – talks it hopes could help ease out Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.