GCC Summit could be beginning of end of Qatar crisis
The GCC Summit will convene in Kuwait on Wednesday, despite an ongoing Qatar crisis, analysts have said.
“The GCC Summit will convene in Kuwait, because all member countries are determined to maintain this significant Gulf institution, although it falls short of expectations, and out of respect to the host country and its Emir, Shaikh Sabah Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah,” said Mohammad Al Hammadi, Editor-in-Chief of the Arabic daily Al Etihad.
Al Hammadi, however, noted that the level of representation was not clear yet. “The meeting is important, but the level of representation of GCC members was not clear, yet.”
Noting that the summit was not going to bring about a solution to the Gulf crisis, Al Hammadi told Gulf News the summit would, rather, be the beginning of the end of the rift with Qatar.
A rift between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain, on one side, and Qatar on the other has put this year’s annual meeting in doubt.
Bahrain said in October it will not attend the summit if Qatar does not change its policies, adding that Qatar should have its membership in the six-nation group suspended.
Dr Fayez Al Nashwan, professor of international relations at Kuwait University, told Gulf News Kuwait is resolute to convene the summit on time and with all GCC members attending.
“I believe the GCC Summit in Kuwait will bring about a solution to the Qatar rift. Kuwait, which had led mediation efforts between the two sides, would try again to use the meeting to resolve the rift,” Dr Al Nashwan added.
Dr Al Nashwan said Shaikh Sabah’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia was an effort to persuade King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz to attend meetings in Kuwait to save the GCC from collapsing because of the crisis with Qatar.
He said the Saudi position was that a summit couldn’t be convened given the current situation.
The Kingdom, along with the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, severed ties with Qatar on June 5 over what they described as Doha’s interference in their countries’ internal affairs and its support for radical groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, designated a terrorist organisation in all four countries.
Dr Al Nashwan said Shaikh Sabah tried to persuade GCC members that the unity of the body was more important than differences that can be overcome with time.
He confirmed there had already been a solution to the crisis, but the problem lies in guarantees that Qatar commits itself to the quartet’s demands, once an agreement signed.
Meanwhile, a Saudi writer has said that holding the summit as scheduled will be proof of insistence on the continuation of the alliance, even if it is under a new format.
“It is crucial to hold the summit now because its disintegration would be a bad omen,” Humood Abu Talib said. “Holding it is imperative even without Qatar attending, and its status can be reviewed at a later stage.”
Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE severed their diplomatic and trade relations with Qatar on June 5 after they accused it of supporting extremists and funding terrorism. The three countries, and Egypt, issued a list of 13 demands to Qatar, but Doha has so far rejected them.
Kuwait has been working on bringing the two sides together, but no breakthrough has been achieved so far, putting the annual gathering of the GCC leaders in doubt.
“The presence of the GCC leaders at a summit that discusses the Gulf issue is an important event that requires full disclosure, clarity and full transparency for the future of the alliance, which faces unprecedented risks and threats from several sides and betrayals from within,” Abu Talib wrote in Saudi daily Okaz on Saturday. “We have known many of the details about risks from outside and within, and we will know the rest at a later stage. The whole issue can end up with a GCC with four or three members or there may be a new alliance between Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE that will not be part of the GCC. What really matters now is to make a decision about the fate of the GCC based on its current situation and on the merit of its continuation as it is now.”