It was evident in the 41st summit of the Gulf Cooperation Councils (GCC) which was held in Riyadh- Saudi Arabia on Tuesday 5th of January 2021 and attended by Qatar after the rift with Doha since 2017.
By Dr Waiel Awwad,
There is a saying in Arabic:” The one who inserts himself between the onion and its peels will get the scent in return only”, this is true in case of the rift between the Gulf States. It was evident in the 41st summit of the Gulf Cooperation Councils (GCC) which was held in Riyadh- Saudi Arabia on Tuesday 5th of January 2021 and attended by Qatar after the rift with Doha since 2017.
The rift started in 2014 when the four countries recalled their ambassadors from Qatar and in 2017 they accused Qatar of sabotage, treasons, violating the GCC charter by supporting Muslims Brotherhood and Hamas.
The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, known as GCC is a regional intergovernmental political and economic union established in 25/5/1981 with six members Monarch of the Persian Gulf, except Iraq, including Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain.
Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain with Egypt joined hands in boycotting Qatar and threatened military intervention to force Qatar to come to terms with the laid down demands and abide by the 13 conditions put by Saudi Arabia to bring it back into the GCC fold. These demands included ending support to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, lower diplomatic tie with Iran, closing Turkey military base and many other demands.
The good news is Qatar is back in GCC and the bad news is none of the demand is fulfilled by Doha!
On the contrary, Qatar has become more adamant against conspirator`s neighbours who were planning a military invasion and replacing the current Emir with the dissent of Qatar`s ruling family in Saudi Arabia. During the US President Donald Trump’s tenure, Doha became closer to Turkey and Iran and there is still no sign of parting with these two countries to meet some of the GCC demands, especially when President-elect Joe Biden is taking over the White House. What we can draw attention to, here is that it was President Trump and his son in law Jared Kushner behind the rift with Qatar. And, now he has pressured Riyadh to reconcile with Doha before leaving office and drawn the new project for GCC and Persian Gulf as a whole with the presence of new “Lawrence of Arabia” Kushner at the 41st GCC Summit!
However, some credit goes to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) for reconciling, because of the efforts of Kuwait and Oman, in bringing the rivals together, at least for the people of the region who were full of jubilation, especially for the separated families affected by the boycott, expulsion and closure of the border with Qatar.
The intention of Saudi Arabia`s crown prince MBS, toward Qatar ruling family will not change and the doubt will always be floating over the Gulf. What makes this reconciliation move a mysterious one is not the love for Emir of Qatar but it has come to light after the secret visit of the Israeli Prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu and meeting with MBS and Mike Pompeo the outgoing foreign Secretary of the USA. It is a clear indication that the new development in the Arab Peninsula was topping the agenda which includes future of MBS himself under the new the USA administration, the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate and the alleged direct involvement of the Saudi crown prince in eliminating him. Also, human rights violations, Yemen war and above all the JAASTA law will be applied against Saudi Arabia because of the September 11th attack on the Trade Centre. Some reports indicate that Netanyahu has promised MBS a way out if he normalizes relation with Tel Aviv and join hands in the anti-Iran Bloc.
In this 41st Summit, they signed on a” solidarity and stability “agreement to end the rift against Qatar. For those who follow the political developments in the Persian Gulf would have witnessed the main characteristic features of this major event which was evident from the way it was covered by main rival channels in the Gulf. The leaders were hugging and embracing each other, however, there were difficulties in reading the body languages and facial expressions because of the masks and traditional attire. There was an absence of King Salman of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and Egypt sent its foreign minister and anti-Iran statements in the final communiqué.
The Saudi border with Qatar reopened and also the airspace with all GCC members, which will ease the rising tension but it would be premature to expect the lifting of all boycott measures will lead to finding a permanent political solution to the differences among main rivals. Hoping that the fallout of this reconciliation moves will have its impact on ending the war on Yemen and Syria and support to Muslim Brotherhood organization and other terrorist groups playing havoc and the killing spree of the follow Arab people of Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya.
(The author is a Senior Journalist from the region, living in India. Views expressed are personal.)