A few weeks ahead of the annual scheduled GCC summit, Kuwait has intensified its mediation in what is being described as a “deepening” Gulf row with Qatar on one side and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE on the other. The row may jeopardise Qatar’s chances of holding the coveted summit, Gulf analysts say.
Officials contacted at the GCC secretariat in Riyadh, meanwhile, were either unavailable to comment or tight-lipped about the controversy. “We believe, and it is clear now, that the Gulf row has further deepened, and there are countries that don’t wish to go to Doha, while Doha is insisting on its stand,” said former Kuwait information minister Mohammad Nasser Al Senussi. Kuwait has been mediating between the member states for a few months, and the Amir His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad recently toured Gulf states to narrow the gap between the two.
“And it is possible that he made another tour.yesterday (Tuesday), there were intensive contacts between senior GCC officials,” Al Senussi told the Gulf News. “We have not lost hope.” GCC Secretary-General Abdul Latif Al Zayani is in Kuwait on Wednesday to attend a previously-scheduled GCC defence meeting, GCC sources told Gulf News. However, it is not clear if his visit will become part of the talks of the mediation. It is also unclear whether the upcoming annual GCC summit will be held in Doha, as scheduled, Al Senussi and other GCC officials said.
“We have not received any [news] about any change,” said a senior official at the GCC who asked not to be named. “I don’t have an answer and I don’t have the authority to talk about this,” said another official when asked whether the Qatari invitation by Shaikh Tamimi Bin Hamad Al Thani on Tuesday was unusual. In his speech in the inauguration of the Qatari Shura Council, Shaikh Tamimi welcomed the GCC states to “their summit in Qatar next month”.
A Gulf analyst however questioned the possibility of holding a summit while the Gulf trio have no ambassadors in Doha. Riyadh, Manama and Abu Dhabi recalled their ambassador to Doha last March to protest Qatar regional policies, which they said contradicted their interests.
The rift is deepening, said Al Senussi.
Qatar, analysts say, is reluctant to back down on its stance on core issues of the row. The pan-Arab Al Jazeera TV Channel’s coverage, and the fate of Qatar-based Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader Yousuf Al Qaradawi, and Doha’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood group are among the issues that Qatar was asked to review.
Gulf states accuse Al Jazeera of biased coverage, and have called Qatar to expel Al Qaradawi. While Qatar has supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, some other members of the Gulf bloc have declared the Brotherhood a terrorist organisation accusing it of attempting to destabilise the Gulf countries’ security.
The current row in the GCC is the first of its kind in the history of the bloc, which was established in 1981.