Monday, May 23, 2011

The GCC And Setting The Good Example

By Mohammad El-Ashab
This commentary was published in al-Hayat on 22/05/2011

On several instances, Morocco found itself closer to the countries of the Gulf, in spite of the long distances. In the seventies, it discovered that the events of the Zaffer revolution, which targeted the Sultanate of Oman, had had their repercussions in the western part of the Arab world, namely at the borders of the Western Desert. Back then, radical leftists thought that the revolution may bring together the Red Sea and the Atlantic coast.

In the beginning of the nineties, the Moroccan kingdom was subjected to pressures and temptations from the part of the regime of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The latter had failed to understand why Morocco was the first state in the world to condemn the invasion of Kuwait. And when he dispatched envoys from the Baath party leadership, they told the late King Hassan II that the issue of Kuwait resembles that of the Sahara for the Moroccans. But Rabat rejected the logic of hegemony and advised the Iraqis that there is nothing better than to withdraw from other people’s lands.

A prominent Iranian official once came to Rabat in order to discuss ways to restore trust. He heard direct statements from the Moroccans on the fact that the real mechanism to head in that direction consisted of launching a dialogue with the United Arab Emirates around the evacuation of the three islands. The Iranians back then were working on finding a foothold in the northern African part. They were appalled by the fact that the Moroccan king considered the Gulf and the Levant as strategic priorities. Meanwhile, the solidarity that brought Morocco close to Saudi Arabia was larger than any analysis and it constituted the brightest example of brotherhood and synergy at all times.

For these and other reasons, the best efforts that were made in order to end the tension in the issue of the Sahara were carried out by the GCC countries. The first Moroccan-Algerian summit between King Hassan II and Algerian President Al-Shazili Binjadid at the common borders of the two neighboring countries was held in the presence of the man who engineered this meeting, the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques, the late Fahd Bin Abdel-Aziz. In addition, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan al-Nahian had tried several mediations in order to contain the tension in the area of Mindaqa. Indeed, features of brotherhood and solidarity become apparent during crises and harsh times.

Meanwhile, the constant thing was that the GCC countries had expressed additional satisfaction concerning the efforts that resulted in the establishment of the Maghreb Union as an economic bloc with ramifications in political cooperation. They had always trusted the balanced harmony that can be produced by the regional structures in the Gulf and Northern Africa. In parallel, the Maghreb people were quite appreciative of the Gulf experience in a way that matched their aspirations to proceed in the same pattern of the European Union.

In this era of bloc formation, seclusion is no longer acceptable. Even when the Maghreb experience stumbled, this did not prevent the GCC countries from proceeding with the enhancement of the bilateral and multilateral relations with the countries of North Africa. This implies that the call for Morocco to join the Gulf club does not contradict any regional affiliation, but rather enhances its directions. This is about setting a good example, which encourages people instead of driving them apart, and which builds instead of destroying.

Just as no plant can survive outside its climatic environment, the natural environment of the mutual commitments in the context of the relationship between the Gulf and the North African countries makes the joining of Morocco to the GCC a natural event in an atmosphere that is free of clashes and differences.

This is perhaps the secret behind the Gulf call that indicates a futuristic vision based on the restraints of globalization and the wind of change and the interaction with human experiences.

It is useless to think about this project with the mentality that caused the failing of several projects of unity. And there is no room to go back to the concepts of geographic barriers in a world that is actually proceeding towards canceling them. Indeed, the vision of the Gulf people goes beyond the control of the rules of persistence all the way to integration in this age’s changes. This alone provides trust in the new wagers.

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