Monday, May 14, 2012

Bahrain backs Saudi plan to unify six Persian Gulf Arab states: report

(From R to L) the UAE premier, Bahrain’s King Hamad, Saudi King Abdullah, Omani deputy premier, the Qatari ruler and the Kuwaiti king (file photo)

Source: Press TV

Bahraini Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa has declared Manama’s support for a Saudi plan to unify the six Arab states of the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council, a report says.

According to a report published by the Saudi newspaper al-Riyadh on Sunday, the Bahraini premier said the “option of a union has become urgent.”

Riyadh is reportedly seeking to initially merge with Manama in line with a proposal to unify the six Arab states of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

Leaders of the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council states are expected to meet and discuss the Saudi proposal on May 14. The Arab states claim the purpose of the unity is to counter regional threats.

In December 2011, Saudi King Abdullah called on the council members to move “beyond the stage of cooperation and into the stage of unity in a single entity.”

The Bahraini premier told al-Riyadh the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council must “concentrate during this period on achieving and ensuring security and increasing coordination in the fields of security, military and defense by adopting a unified [Persian] Gulf security structure to protect the council’s states.”

Bahraini Information Minister Samira Rajab said on Saturday the idea of Arab union could follow the “European Union model.”

The report by al-Riyadh comes as Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of the main Bahraini opposition group, al-Wefaq, censured the unity proposal on Sunday, demanding a referendum on the issue to be held in all the six Arab countries.

“Bahrain gained its independence (in 1971) following a referendum” overseen by the United Nations, Salman said in a speech.

The Bahraini opposition leader also stated that the people of Bahrain “alone have the right” to decide and the ruling Al Khalifa regime has “no right to decide a union or confederation with any country.”

A committee of representatives from the six Arab states will submit its findings on the Saudi proposal to the meeting on Monday.

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