Including Yemen in the GCC

*By Abdulrahman al-Rashed

The population of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries will be 70 million if Yemen, whose population is 25 million, joins. Its inclusion will strengthen the GCC geopolitically as it will overlook all sea lanes in three strategic seas. The Yemen war has proven undoubtedly that the country can be the door through which the winds of chaos and foreign interference blow.

It is too early to talk about Yemen's future given the ongoing war there, but a roadmap on Yemen’s future ties with the GCC should be now be discussed in order to be paired with the current political arrangements being put in place in Aden and Sanaa. Prior to the Arab Spring, the Council had studied several options regarding including Yemen as a member.

However, Ali Abdullah Saleh's presidency represented a huge problem because Gulf governments do not trust him, especially because of his shifting alliances. When the Arab Spring reached Yemen, discussions on including the country in the GCC were frozen.

Reservations on including Yemen are not only political - there are also currency problems and economic disparities. However, there are various solutions to these problems, as has happened with economic reforms among the weakest members of the European Union (EU). Therefore, what matters is political will.


Perhaps the current tragedy in Yemen presents a historic opportunity for the GCC to promise to include and support it. This will make the Yemeni people realize that there is a better future, and will help them understand that Gulf intervention in the current war has a positive plan, and is not a mere personal or regional struggle. Yemeni parties and figures across the spectrum will be able to take responsible stances that serve the future of the country.

Yemen grants the GCC strategic, economic and demographic weight due to its labor market and geography. The country remains a major part of the GCC system, which despite its name actually represents the countries of the Arabian Peninsula. It is time to complete this system.

*Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.