The Gulf Cooperation Council, or GCC, is an intergovernmental organization made up of six member nations, all located in the Persian Gulf. Also known as the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, the GCC was first established in the Charter of the Gulf Cooperation Council in 1981, in response to the Iraq/Iran war, to establish a unified front against the spread of violence. With the exceptions of Iraq and Iran, every Arab state in the Persian Gulf belongs to the GCC. The GCC's goal is to promote unity across member nations based on shared objectives and similar political and cultural views, which are based on the beliefs of Islam.
List of Member States in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC):
Provisional or future members of the GCC
Iraq participated as an observer for several years, but lost that status when the country invaded Kuwait in 1990. Yemen, which does not touch the Persian Gulf but shares borders with both Oman and Saudi Arabia on the Arabian Peninsula, began the application process in 2007. Source opinions differ as to how close Yemen is to membership, with detractors pointing to its weaker economy and political climate as reasons the GCC could ultimately deny Yemen membership.
Similarities between GCC countries and differences between Arab countries and Persian countries
The member nations of the GCC have a collective area of more than 1 million square miles, a population of more than 54 million people, and a total GDP in excess of $3.464 trillion USD. All GCC member nations are monarchies (sultanates to be specific), though some are constitutional monarchies and others are absolute monarchies.
The GCC nations possess some of the world's largest oil reserves and rank among the largest oil producers and exporters on Earth. are largely built around some of the world's largest pursuing structural reform initiatives to reduce the member nations' dependence on oil.
The GCC countries tend to have little in common with Persian countries such as Iran and Iraq, whose governmental systems are markedly different. For example, Persian countries do not speak Arabic but do often endorse arranged marriages. However, both GCC and Persian countries are often ruled under classic Sharia Law—which means they tend to be culturally conservative, even homophobic, and are among those countries most likely to not celebrate Christmas.
An initiative introduced in 2011 proposed upgrading the GCC from a cooperative entity to a "Gulf Union" similar to the European Union, which would create deeper economic, military, and political ties between the nations. Such a union would give the GCC members greater economic and military stability and further counterbalance the influence of Iran throughout the region, which many Arab states view as a significant threat.