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Gulf Cooperation Council

The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (مجلس التعاون لدول الخليج العربي‎), originally (and still colloquially) known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC, مجلس التعاون الخليجي), is a regional intergovernmental political and economic union consisting of all Arab states of the Persian Gulf — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates — except for Iraq. The Charter of the GCC was signed on 25 May 1981, formally establishing the institution.

A proposal in 2011 to transform the GCC into a “Gulf Union” with tighter economic, political and military coordination was advanced by Saudi Arabia, a move meant to counterbalance the Iranian influence in the region. Objections were raised against the proposal by other countries. But, in 2014, Bahrain prime minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa said that current events in the region highlighted the importance of the proposal. The Peninsula Shield Force is the military arm of the GCC, formed in 1984.

In order to reduce their future dependence on oil, the GCC states are pursuing unprecedented economic structural reform.

The GCC members and Yemen are also members of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA). However, this is unlikely to affect the agenda of the GCC significantly, as it has a more aggressive timetable than GAFTA and is seeking greater integration.