|UAE, Saudi Arabia form new partnership separate from GCC|
The United Arab Emirates says it has formed a new “joint cooperation committee” with Saudi Arabia to partner on economic and military issues, separate from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
The Emirati Foreign Ministry made the announcement early on Tuesday ahead of a GCC meeting in Kuwait, saying it was approved by the UAE's ruler and president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nayhan.
Saudi Arabia did not immediately report on the new partnership.
It wasn't immediately clear how the announcement could affect the six-member GCC meeting, which is expected to focus on the Qatar issue. Half of the GCC members are boycotting Doha in a dispute that’s cleaved the Arabian Peninsula.
The Emirati ministry said the new “committee is assigned to cooperate and coordinate between the UAE and Saudi Arabia in all military, political, economic, trade and cultural fields, as well as others, in the interest of the two countries.”
The UAE and Saudi Arabia have cultivated even-closer ties in recent years. Emirati troops are deeply involved in the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Abu Dhabi’s powerful crown prince, Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nayhan, also is believed to have a closer relationship with Saudi Arabia’s young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Emirati announcement did not say whether any other Gulf Arab countries would be invited to join the new group but the development puts pressure the GCC, a group of American-allied Gulf Arab nations formed in part in 1981 as a counterbalance to Shiite power Iran.
The United States and its European allies all have told the council’s members that the region remains stronger with them working together as a whole, while the countries themselves still appear divided over their future. .