I don’t think that a lot of people in the Gulf actually realised that their leaders were in Riyadh since yesterday for their annual summit. The 27th one that is, and maybe the first time in many years where ALL leaders of the six Gulf Cooperation Council of the Arabian Gulf were actually present. I guess we all became jaded with this club, as nothing really gets out of these sessions that directly affects the person on the street, maybe because at their level they’re talking about long-term strategies of course. But still, my personal feeling from observations gathered over the last several years, no one really paid notice to these gatherings and we awaited the almost usual sparks and discord which marred several recent gatherings, as almost every one over the last 7 years or so ended up with less leaders around the table at the end of the summit than at their start.
But as all the deliberations are top secret and done behind closed doors, we never knew what went on that resulted in such eventualities.
Not this time though.. the sessions started with the usual objectives of freeing Palestine, telling Israel to get rid of its nuclear weapons, paying lip service (this time) to the Iranian threat, the Iraqi situation which are all issues we have heard for 27 times already, more or less.. then comes the big one:
Gulf Arab countries want to acquire nuclear energy capability and have ordered a study on a possible joint atomic programme, a statement read on Sunday at the close of a two-day Gulf Cooperation Council summit said.
That didn’t surprise me of course as I think everyone moderately following the happenings of this region and with a slight knowledge of the Arab mentality would have already arrived at the conclusion that it is a matter of when and not if the nations of the Gulf Arab states would actively pursue nuclear energy for (initially) peaceful means. It was only yesterday actually that I predicted this when commenting on the just concluded Manama Dialogue opening remarks and keynote speech:
The worry of course is whether these remarks also indicate a serious attempt by the Saudi regime to actively pursue nuclear technology acquisition in order to balance the Iranian threat on one side, and the Israeli on the other. That would certainly be a very problematic development.
Ah well. So what’s to be done about this then? Nothing… I’m not being flippant by saying that I don’t think this will go anywhere really, we’re Arabs and like to talk big but deliver very rarely. This is just posturing, nothing more and nothing less. A bunch of states flush with cash encountered a very good salesman who sold them the idea that he could make the technology available to them, for the right price of course, and the cheque-books got whipped out so fast that I guess some fights ensued between the leaders on whose turn it is to pick up the tab. And there are no prizes for guessing who it was.
If you are a businessperson, this is the time to brush up on nuclear glossary of terms and start thinking about nuclear construction projects and get the joint-venture research up and running.. think Pakistan, India, North Korea and Iran for possible JV partners…
Until then, this is the picture that will be used as backdrops and backgrounds for necessary pictures on walls.
I am so glad that I am an Arab, thank you very much!