Impasse in GCC

Impasse in GCC
It has been revealed that the 38th summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which is currently taking place, will be cut short by a day. In addition, UAE announced the..

It has been revealed that the 38th summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which is currently taking place, will be cut short by a day. In addition, UAE announced the formation of a new economic and partnership group with Saudi Arabia.

Background

The Gulf Cooperation Council was established in 25th May 1981. It comprises of six member nations - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. It is a regional intergovernmental political and economic union consisting of all Arab states of the Persian Gulf, except for Iraq.

In June 2017, a Saudi Arabia-led bloc of nations in Gulf cut all diplomatic ties with Qatar. Qatar has remained isolated with the blockage of its air, sea, and land links. Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt alleged that Qatar sponsored terrorism in the region – a charge that Qatar has denied.

A stalemate now exists in West Asia. The Saudi Arabian bloc of nations have released six principles for Qatar to abide by, if the impasse should end. However, Qatar has ignored these principles and instead filed a wide-ranging legal complaint at the World Trade Organization to challenge the trade boycott. The nation is seeking remuneration.

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said in October 2017, that the nation was open to engage in diplomatic dialogue with the Saudi Arabia-led bloc. “We conveyed...that Qatar is ready to conduct a dialogue to solve the problem as we already know that no one will win.” He has also made it clear that any threat of Qatar’s sovereignty would be the nation’s “red line.” He added, “Our sovereignty is a red line. We don't accept anybody interfering in our sovereignty. They don't like our independence, the way how we are thinking, our vision for the region. We want freedom of speech for the people of the region and they're not happy with that, and so they think that this is a threat to them.”

In a recent interview, he also opened up and said that the impasse had come as a shock to Qatar adding, “A few weeks before that, we were meeting, all of us together, in one room, including President Trump. We were discussing terrorism, financing terrorism, and nobody brought any concern from those countries. Nobody told me anything.”

Analysis

Recently Bahrain announced that the nation will no longer be participating in any summit also attended by Qatar. Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa said that Qatar did not adhere to the spirit of the GCC. The GCC summit is currently place in Kuwait. Amid increased tensions between members, the summit had to be cut short. It has now been announced that the summit will be concluded on Tuesday rather than on Wednesday.

Even though Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, arrived for the summit; the heads of three countries, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain did not attend.  Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir is currently leading the Saudi delegation.

In addition, during the GCC summit, UAE announced the formation of a new economic and partnership group with Saudi Arabia. The Emirati ministry said the new ``committee is assigned to cooperate and coordinate between the UAE and Saudi Arabia in all military, political, economic, trade and cultural fields, as well as others, in the interest of the two countries.''

"This is the most important annual summit the GCC has held for more than two decades,'' said Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a research fellow at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. "The GCC needs to illustrate its relevance after having been bypassed at every stage of the Qatar crisis.''

Assessment

Our assessment is that the creation of a new partnership between UAE and Saudi Arabia would be seen as an effort to undermine the unity of the GCC region. We believe that Kuwait, which has acted as a mediator in the ongoing Qatar impasse and is the host of the summit, will find the announcement offensive to its efforts. This also indicates that the impasse is unlikely to end in the near future despite the efforts from the international community. 

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