GCC plus Egypt and Jordan
After numerous meetings over the last year with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, plus Egypt and Jordan, the Bush administration wins a breakthrough — of sorts. The GCC Plus Two, a group the administration sees as a budding front against Iran, issued its first-ever communiqué.Also, Saudis pass on the idea of squeezing the Iranian economy by pumping up oil production. Of course, with oil already at $51/barrel, out-of-control governments like Iran and Venezuela will be squeezed and will have to discipline their spending and over regulation.
But the statement leaves out any mention of Iran, referring instead to the importance of regional stability and the group’s “collective desire to prevent Iraq from becoming a battleground for regional and international powers.” The intentional omission reflects the sensitivity that that the Gulf countries of Oman, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain feel about provoking Iran, the region’s rising power.
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In a slightly more pungent line, the group says it “welcomed the commitment by the United States as stated in President Bush’s recent speech to defend the security of the Gulf [and] the territorial integrity of Iraq.” Bush said in his Iraq speech last week that he was sending another aircraft carrier to the Gulf and would cut off Iranian networks in Iraq.