A proposal to expand the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to include two Arab monarchies came as a big surprise to many.
Since its establisment back in 1981, the GCC has closed its doors to others and focused, instead, on promoting economic and political ties among its members - Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
But at a summit in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, on Tuesday, GCC leaders said they welcomed a request by Jordan to join the group and invited Morocco to enter into negotiations to finalise the necessary procedures for joining the bloc.
What has prompted the GCC leaders to take such a surprising decision? And why Jordan and Morocco?
Inside Story, with presenter Dareen Abughaida, discusses with Jawad Anani, a political analyst for the political and economic think tank, Albaseera, and the former Jordanian foreign minister and minister of information; Lahcen Haddad, a columnist and expert on strategic studies who also teaches at Mohammed V University in Morocco; and Fahad Shulemi, a security expert spcialising in the Gulf region.
This episode of Inside Story aired from Friday, May 13, 2011.