Saudi Arabia ratified the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) security treaty endorsed by the GCC Supreme Council at its 33rd summit in Bahrain in December, the official Saudi Press Agency said.
Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Abdulaziz Khoja said after the weekly cabinet meeting here in Jeddah on Monday that the government decided to ratify the treaty after considering the report presented by the Minister of Interior Prince Mohammed bin Naif and the decision of the Shoura Council to approve the treaty last May.
“The agreement focuses on cooperation among member countries in law enforcement and information exchange,” Khoja said.
Member countries will cooperate with one another in tracking down criminals and law violators irrespective of their nationalities. The agreement also allows GCC countries to take action against citizens and foreigners who try to interfere in their internal affairs. They will also exchange information related to wanted citizens and foreigners.
The security treaty did not pass without controversy.
Khaled Al Sayed, editor-in-chief of Doha-based newspaper The Peninsula, wrote last December that it was “shameful” for GCC governments to quietly pass the agreement without that raising awareness among their citizens about the pact or its contents.
“They are supposed to know because it concerns them, and it would upset them that the clauses of the pact haven’t been discussed and their opinions not sought,” he said.
The GCC security agreement was first introduced in 1994, but it faced strong resistance from Kuwait where lawmakers raised concerns that the pact is incompatible with its constitution. However, Kuwait eventually came on board to endorse the agreement in order to address security challenges faced by the six Arab Gulf countries.
“Such challenges necessitate that we be a coherent and non-penetrating security entity, and that will only be achieved through this agreement,” a Kuwaiti official said last May.
Photo of Qatar Armed Forces soldier courtesy of US Department of Defense via Flickr