Oil war and IS to dominate GCC agenda

Oil war and IS to dominate GCC agenda
Gulf Cooperation Council members meet in Qatar this week for annual summit amid a rising Islamic State insurgency, a global oil price war and a lingering rift in relations between GCC members.
2 min read
07 December, 2014
Qatar's leader hosts the summit in Doha, beginning on Tuesday [AFP]
Falling oil prices and the rise of Islamic State group will dominate the agenda at the annual summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council on Tuesday.

Oil is the main income source for the six GCC countries and they are likely to defend their share of the international oil market against competition from shale oil being produced in northern America.

The price of crude oil has fallen 40 percent since June. A recent decision by OPEC, the oil-producing organisation, to maintain current production levels despite the over-supply worldwide means that prices will continue to fall.

Kamel el-Harmi, an oil indutry analyst and former retail president of the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, said preserving market share has become more important to Gulf producers than defending price levels.

The summit will also touch on divisions between GCC members. Qatar, which is hosting the summit, has angered Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain for supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and for giving refuge to opponents of its fellow GCC states. They saw this as interference in their internal affairs. 

Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Manama withdrew their ambassadors from Doha in March over the diplomatic crisis but have now returned them. 

According to analyst Abdelwahab Badrkhan, the reconciliation was motivated mainly by the threat of IS. The Gulf monarchies have joined the US-led airstrike campaign in Syria and Iraq targetting the group.

A Gulf official told AFP the summit would discuss the creation of a "joint military command" to coordinate anti-IS action.

Nevertheless, "GCC divergences persist on relations with Egypt and the regional role of Iran", said Badrkhan.