GCC leaders announced that they welcomed Jordan application to join the GCC and invited Morocco to join the group. Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said contacts were under way with his counterparts in the GCC to meet Jordan's membership requirements. Detailed discussions could come later this month, he said, without disclosing what the membership requirements are.
Jordan had first unsuccesfully applied to join the GCC in the mid-1980’s and again after King Abdullah II ascended to the throne.
Last month the GCC’s common defense group, the Peninsula Shield sent troops into Bahrain to support the country's king against Shiite protestors. Jordan is said to have sent a unit of about 800 police and army, reportedly operating under the Saudi Arabian command.
In an even more surprising move, the GCC invited Morocco to join the club, despite the fact that Morocco is located on another continent, almost two thousand miles away.
Analysis and Forecast: Decreasing Risk
Although the timing of the GCC announcement to welcome Jordan’s may have surprised some, the fact that Morocco was invited at the same time may have disguised the real motives behind the GCC desire to welcome Jordan. At first sight, the new alliance may appear as a grouping of Arab monarchies. However, Jordan’s accession carries deeper and more profound political, military and economic implications.
On the economic level, Jordan has had to constantly look for sustainable sources to cover its rising energy needs. The fall of the Mubarak regime in Egypt, which supplies Jordan with gas at heavily discounted rates, has left Jordan with no choice but to seek oil from Saudi Arabia or Iraq to cover the shortage. Although Saudi Arabia would have supplied Jordan with extra oil to cover the shortfall, possibly at discounted prices, joining the GCC is an indication that the GCC, and Saudi Arabia in particular, are keen to ensuring Jordan does not suffer from the negative economic and political repercussions the stoppage of the Egyptian gas would entail. Jordan currently imports all 120,000 barrels per day of crude it needs from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE, but with the Egyptian gas stopping, which supplies over two-thirds of Jordan’s power needs, this figure is likely to rise substantially.
More generally, as a GCC member, GCC states are likely to help Jordan overcome increasingly challenging economic difficulties, in a similar way Bahrain and Oman were helped through a pledge of US $20 billion in economic aid. Although the details and the timeline of the membership are yet unclear, it is expected that the GCC would ease the entry of the Jordanian workforce to seek employment in the GCC, thereby easing pressures on rampant unemployment, as well as easing the entry of Jordanian goods into GCC markets.
On the political front, Jordan’s entry gives the GCC bloc greater political credence in regional affairs, including the Arab-Israeli conflict. The GCC’s role has so far been restricted to providing economic aid, but with Jordan part of the GCC, the GCC finds itself bordering Israel, Syria and Lebanon, thereby having a much bigger stake in the wider Middle East’s political and security affairs.
On another front, the announcement also reflects rifts within the current GCC. Qatar, Oman and Kuwait are understood to be against the Jordanians joining the GCC. Qatar sees this as a curtailment of its efforts in trying to seek regional leadership, whilst Oman, with its strengthening ties to Iran may find the political and security implications having a negative impact on its alliances.
Overall, however, the announcement that Jordan is set to join the GCC is positive to both the GCC and Jordan, economically, politically and militarily.
The figure below shows the GDP per capita (in US$) for the current GCC states, Jordan and Morocco as well as for the average for the old and the expanded GCC.