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Kuwait says GCC 'needs to change' to survive rifts

Kuwait has hosted this year's GCC summit [AFP]

Date of publication: 6 December, 2017

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The Gulf union will have to make alterations if it is to survive, Kuwait's leader said, as the GCC remains deeply divided over a Qatar-Saudi rift.

Structural changes will have to be made to the Gulf Coordination Council (GCC) if the regional bloc is to survive current challenges, Kuwait has said.

It comes after the GCC annual summit abruptly ended on Tuesday. Delegates left Kuwait on the second day of the proceedings rather than the third.

The summit was overshadowed by the rift that has set GCC members Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain against Qatar, with the tripartite powers launching a blockade on Doha.

Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah said that adjustments would have to be made to the GCC mechanism in order for intra-council rifts to be swiftly handled and prevented from getting worse.

"We might change the system of the GCC to have mechanisms to better face challenges," Sheikh Sabah said as the event came to a close.

It was also revealed that the Qatar-Saudi issue was not discussed by the GCC member states many of whom did not sent leaders to the meeting. 

The announcement on Tuesday of a new political and military alliance between the UAE and Saudi Arabia, threatened to leave the GCC bloc a dead duck.

The two countries have been at the forefront of the blockade on Qatar which began on 5 June, after Doha was accused of supporting terrorism and being too closely alligned to Iran - allegations that have been strongly denied by the emirate.

Several rifts have broken out between GCC states during its 36 year history, which was designed to counter-balance security threats in the region and foster closer ties between Gulf states.

In 2014, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Doha, likely due to Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood movement in the region.

The most recent spat is the most serious in the GCC's history, with Kuwait and Oman attempting to rescue the bloc from internal collapse.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE's announcement on Tuesday of a "union" could render the Gulf union ineffective, as the new partnership will deal with military and economic cooperation between the two largest GCC economies.

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