Where do countries stand on the GCC rift?

Frederick Owens
December 7, 2017

The president of the UAE has announced the formation of a new military, economic and political alliance with Saudi Arabia.

"We know that in the past some countries outright refused to be a part of any summit that had Qatar in it but Kuwait's success lies in bringing people from all Gulf countries together on a table for the first time since the beginning of the siege".

The new organization is tasked with improving cooperation between the two Gulf States in "all military, political, economic, trade and cultural fields, as well as others, in the interest of the two countries". It will be chaired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed, and the UAE's deputy prime minister, Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

Volatile relationship among Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman were felt once again on Monday evening while Yemen's Ansarullah leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi warned foreign investors to leave Saudi Arabia and UAE and advised them to invest in Kuwait, Oman and Yemen's capital Sana'a for conducting secure business. While the UAE denies that a missile was sacked towards one of its nuclear plants, Saudi Arabia claimed its Patriot missile system successfully intercepted a Houthi missile, targeted at Riyadh airport.

Overall, 18 destinations in the region are now out of bounds for Qatar Airways, which has also been forced to close its offices in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Those three Gulf states, together with Egypt, cut all ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing the gas-rich emirate of supporting Islamist extremists and of being too close to Shia Iran, Riyadh's arch-rival.

The conclusion of the 38th GCC summit in Kuwait after just a day of meetings exemplified the extent of the rift that has paralysed the committee since June.

The message was delivered by Kuwait's ambassador to Qatar during a meeting with Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Haman Al Thani on Thursday.

Regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia snubbed its former ally Qatar at the annual summit Tuesday of Gulf monarchies as King Salman stayed away despite the presence of the Qatari emir.

Qatar denies the accusations, and blasts the blockade as an attempt by the larger Gulf States to bully it into submission.

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Saudi Arabia's foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, Oman's Deputy PM for cabinet affairs Fahad bin Mahmoud Al-Saeed and Bahrain's Deputy Pm Sheikh Mohammad bin Mubarak Al-Khalifa reached Kuwait for participating in the summit on Tuesday.

"The justifications for the existence of the GCC bloc amidst the continued crisis are no longer present like before", said Sami al-Faraj, head of the Kuwait Center for Strategic Studies.

In October, Bahrain called for Qatar's membership of the GCC to be suspended until it accepted the demands.

It also indicated that United States and its European allies have told GCC members that region remains stronger with them working together as a whole, while "the countries themselves still appear divided" over their future.

The Gulf states' trade relations with the United Kingdom - now worth more than $40bn annually - will be crucial after it leaves the European Union in 2019.

"For post-Brexit deals, the United Kingdom would obviously prefer to go with the GCC and make it a GCC deal", he said.

The Gulf states have approved a customs union, a common market, a single currency and a single central bank, but most of these have yet to be implemented.

Despite "negative developments and sorrowful events" over the past six months, GCC leaders have managed to calm the situation which is an important step in addressing the recent feud, he added, according to Kuwait's state news agency (Kuna).

"The GCC is a continuous project in which the will of member states meets to build a unified Gulf body", he said.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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