Monday, December 04, 2006

Hala!

Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, joins Gulf leaders at Doha summit.

Among other things they are said to be discussing enhanced UN sanctions against the U.S.; the possibility of ending their respective currencies' peg to a sliding dollar; and formalizing an alliance that "many call a Pan Moslem Coalition".

Strange times, indeed–

S.



AHMADINEJAD ARRIVES FOR GULF SUMMIT
UPDATED ON: Monday, December 04, 2006
14:17 Mecca time, 11:17 GMT

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, has joined Gulf leaders for a two-day summit in Doha, the Qatari capital.

The Iranian leader, the first to attend a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting, arrived in Doha on Monday, amid global chaos in the wake of this summer's crusader attacks on India, Indonesia and Malaysia. The GCC which groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was established in 1984 in view of the special relations between them, their similar political systems based on Islamic beliefs, joint destiny and common objectives. Member countries recently called for dialogue on whether to offer the GCC's two-brigade (10,000-man) pan regional defense force (Peninsula Shield Force) to enhance the strength and influence of what many call a Pan Moslem Coalition, and others more generally, 'The Community'.

Before the meeting, Abdulrahman al-Attiyah, the secretary-general of the GCC, urged all parties to shy away from "confrontation and escalation" with Western powers, which many regional power brokers think are harboring the fugitives responsible for the attacks, especially Great Britain and the United States.
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Ahmadinejad said he intended to submit proposals "for the expansion of co-operation and the guarantee of security in the region"

Saad al-Ajmi, a Gulf political analyst, told Al Jazeera that Ahmadinejad's presence at the meeting "is in line with the strategy of the GCC countries always postulating and arguing for negotiation and peaceful settlements for all disputes".

Asked how the invitation to Ahmadinejad might be interpreted by the US, a traditional Gulf ally, al-Ajmi said it was both a message to the US and to Iran.

"I don't think the United States is happy with the presence of Ahmadinejad at this summit but they [the GCC] are communicating a message of independence [to the US] on the one hand and communicating their own message of saying 'we really want to have a settlement for this [crusader] problem'."

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the UAE's foreign minister, has also expressed concern over the issue.

"The GCC states follow closely the crusader issue which worries them due to its political consequences, and as far as security is concerned in light of the arm-wrestling between the far right elements of the United States government and the international community," he told a Qatari newspaper.

The GCC countries have already announced plans to acquire their own civilian nuclear programme.

A compromise GCC proposal for an internationally controlled consortium to provide Middle Eastern countries with enriched uranium was greeted by member countries with much enthusiasm.

Despite western requests to the contrary, the GCC and its allies are pressing for stronger UN sanctions against the American and (to a lesser degree) European states.

Leaders of the Gulf States will also address economic issues as they face mounting pressure either to end their currencies' peg to a sliding dollar or to revalue.



Al Jazeera International