Gulf crisis talks expected to dominate upcoming GCC summit


Published: 2021-01-03 15:23

Last Updated: 2024-04-14 03:02

Photo: TNT
Photo: TNT

It is expected that the Gulf crisis, which infamously caused a rift in relations between Qatar and four Arab countries, will dominate the Gulf Cooperation Council summit scheduled in Saudi Arabia next Tuesday, amid indications from Qatar and Saudi Arabia, in particular, of a desire to reach a solution.

In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with the wealthy emirate, accusing it of supporting extremist Islamic groups and cozying up to Iran, which Doha denies.

The four countries have taken measures to boycott Qatar, including closing its airspace to Qatari planes, preventing commercial dealings with the emirate and stopping Qataris from entering its lands, which has caused family members of mixed nationalities to be separated from each other.

After cutting ties, the four countries issued a list of 13 demands from Qatar, including closing the Al-Jazeera media network and downgrading Qatar's relations with Turkey. Doha has not publicly complied with any of the demands.

The Gulf summit meeting Tuesday comes as Washington intensified its pressure on rival countries to resolve the crisis, stressing that Gulf unity is necessary to isolate Iran as President Donald Trump's term approaches its end.

Over the past years, the White House has escalated its rhetoric against Iran, and Washington withdrew from the international agreement concluded between the Islamic Republic and six major countries in 2015 aimed at controlling Iran's nuclear program, but President-elect Joe Biden hinted at the possibility of returning to the negotiating table with Tehran.

US National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said last November that allowing Qatari planes to fly over Saudi Arabia again was a priority for the Trump administration.

In contrast, analysts indicated that Qatar might agree to push for a reduction in media coverage of news related to Saudi Arabia.

The dispute with Qatar will be high on the agenda at the meeting, which will be held in Al-Ula Governorate, in the northwest of the Kingdom.

It is not clear whether the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, will participate in the summit. The level of Qatari representation will be the true indicator of where things have turned out, as the presence of the Emir will be evidence of actual rapprochement.