An idea has been floated around the Gulf states in recent months, and it is being revived these days. Pro-Saudi Salafis and a handful of pro-Saudi media writers (some of them possibly encouraged or funded from Riyadh) are calling for a ‘confederation’ of the GCC Gulf states. One irresponsible columnist even called for a “quick confederation”, and he was covered extensively and gleefully by Saudi media. None of these worthies mentions anything about peoples’ opinions, referendums, or a vote on the issue: such is the state of watermelon opinion-makers on my Gulf. One or two have become obsessive compulsive about it, repeating this frequently. They raise and use fear of Iran as a factor, as well as stoking suspicion and fear of local Shi’as (minorities in all the GCC except Bahrain).
I wrote about this last year and noted that such a confederation would be based on the least common factors among the members, the worst common traits. I also opined that it will not get anywhere (i.e. forgetaboutit). The Gulf states range politically from an absolute monarchy system to a partial democracy (I am not including Bahrain among the latter). For the Saudis, they may think that this will solve the problem of pressures for democracy and accountability. A solidly despotic regional regime on the Saudi mold would represent a strong front against Western and Arab pressures for openness, they probably think. It would also probably bring all other GCC states down to the Saudi and Bahraini levels in the treatment of their minority Shi’a (Shi’ites). That last point is very important for the Wahhabi Kingdom without Magic. For the Salafis around the Gulf it would mean that all GCC states become socially Saudi-like: more power for the clergy, no social reforms, women mostly kept at home, preferably. And no politics: absofuckinglutely no politics! Salafis would also gain more ‘political’ power as their patron regime, the Saudis, would dominate the new confederation as a prelude to swollowing it.
One early serious problem with such a scheme is that the rulers of the smaller states are not stupid, at least not as stupid as the Salafis and Saudi fifth columnists in their countries think. They are all jealous of their own turf and would never accept such a plan, although one or two media outlets may pay lip service to it. The al-Nahayan of the UAE are almost as autocratic as the al-Saud and would never give up one iota of power to their own people or to foreigners. As for Oman, it has always had little real interest in any form of integration, always looking across the Persian-American Gulf and the Indian Ocean.
Then there are the peoples of our region who value their independence and way of life, in spite of all the media noise that hint at the sun actually shining out of the ass of some Saudi prince (remember: Saddam was the supposed source of our sun years ago). In other words, such a plan is not only silly, but dangerous for the peoples of the Gulf states. It is DOA. Only the al-Khalifa of Bahrain may agree to such a hegemony: any regime that invites occupation and torments its own people would do anything to cling to absolute power. Anything.
Therefore, my fatwa is that such a scheme is hair-brained scheme or, as we would say on the Gulf, “مشروع بطيخ” a watermelon scheme.