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GCC lures Jordan, Morocco for security and economic gain
GCC’s move to bring Jordan, Morocco is said to be prompted by unrest and Iran threat; Jordan buffer needed to prevent contagion to northern Gulf
May 15, 2011 10:54 by Reuters
Fellow monarchies Jordan and Morocco have been invited to join the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), as they reportedly seek ways to combat domestic unrest and a perceived Iranian threat.
The announcement surprised many in Amman and Rabat, which have not seen themselves as being on a par with the wealthier economies of the Gulf.
Impetus for the closer realignment has been enhanced by mass protests gripping the Arab world that worried autocratic ruling elites about a contagion sweeping their region as former allies Egypt and Tunisia succumbed to popular revolts, analysts say.
Sunni Gulf leaders are concerned that Western allies could abandon them and back reforms if protests become widespread enough as they did with their longtime allies Hosni Mubarak and Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
Jordan has long supported US-backed Gulf security arrangements underpinned by fears led by Saudi Arabia of Shi’ite political activity as a channel for Iranian influence.
“No doubt the main motivation has been what has been happening in the Arab world and its repercussions. It’s a signal that the security and stability of Jordan is not just a local concern. It’s also a message of solidarity,” said Nawaf Tell, director of Jordan University’s Centre for Strategic Studies.
Ali Anouzla, editor of independent Moroccan news portal Lakome.com, said: “This looks like an alliance that will be against both geography and strategic common sense.”
“Amid the popular revolts demanding democracy, it feels more like a political alliance aimed at preserving the stability and the continuity of Arab monarchies, the majority of which are led by prominent tribes and clans in their respective countries.”
“People demanding change in Morocco have shown what inspires them: They have always carried Tunisian and Egyptian flags.”
Anouzla said those demanding change in Morocco want a parliamentary monarchy, not a constitutional one, to guarantee a separation of powers.
IRAN IN THE BACKGROUND
Taher Adwan, Jordanian minister of state for media affairs, told Reuters that Amman backed the GCC’s foreign policy and its opposition to Iran’s meddling in the region. “Jordan had a clear stance that rejected any Iranian intervention in the affairs of Bahrain,” Adwan added.
Naser al-Belooshi, Bahrain’s ambassador to France, said both Morocco and Jordan had similar capitalist economies that complement the GCC, adding that their strong links with the United States and France could only benefit the world’s largest oil exporting region.
Jordan’s geographical position — it borders Israel, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia — has been growing in value as a crucial buffer whose stability is key to Gulf security as the Arab democratic revolution shakes the grip of long-serving rulers.
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