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Breaking the ice between Qatar and other Arab countries

Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries are using the Gulf Cooperation Council to bring Qatar back into their fold against Iran so that it can be cornered and an existential threat to Saudi Arabia and its ideology could be dealt with.

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News Analysis |

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has officially invited Qatar to participate in the Gulf Cooperation Council’s summit which is to be held in the city of Mecca on 30th May. The emergency summit has been called by Saudi Arabia over the tense situation in the Persian Gulf and heightened armed drone attacks on the Saudi instalments inside the country by Houthi rebels.

Ever since America, under Donald Trump, has started to tighten the noose and choke the Iranian economy, attacks against the Arab allies of the United States, especially against Saudi Arabia, by Iran proxy Houthis have increased. However, for Qatar, the invitation to the GCC summit is a breakthrough as it is not enjoying the ideal relations with the neighbouring Arab countries.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has officially invited Qatar to participate in the Gulf Cooperation Council’s summit which is to be held in the city of Mecca on 30th May.

Almost two years back, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain, enacted a total blockade against Qatar, which included not only a complete halt of trade but the closure of airspace for the World’s leading state-owned Qatar Airways too.

The reason cited for the move was Qatar’s relations with Iran and its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which is deemed as a terrorist organization by many Arab states. Qatar shrugged these allegations as baseless and refused to bow to the pressure and rather explored other options and excelled its economy.

Read more: Qatar’s friendly suit: Promises to provide the UAE with its share…

A story of resilience

Qatar, by magnitude, is a small city-state which is dependent upon the neighbouring countries for the most basic supplies such as food and dairy products. Due to its hold on one of the largest reserves of natural gas, the country is one of the richest in the world in terms of income per capita.

Despite being small in size, it is significant for a country like the United States of America as it has its biggest military base, Al-Udeid, in the entire Middle East and yet has continued with its two-pronged approaches of maintaining ties with Hamas and Iran, both arch-rivals of the United States.

In an attempt to force Qatar to abandon Iran completely, the quartet blockade was imposed with the impression that lack of essential supplies would bear the desired results however, Qatar found new partners to ship the goods through Iran and Turkey.

The strengthening of Tehran-Doha ties

The move apparently backfired as instead of pushing Qatar away from Iran, the economic ties were further strengthened as the magnitude of Qatari imports from Iran increased from $60 million in 2016-17 to $300 million. Due to monetary restrictions enacted by the United States, the potential threshold of the trade between two countries is still not reached which is far more than the current scale.

Donald Trump, has started to tighten the noose and choke the Iranian economy, attacks against the Arab allies of the United States, especially against Saudi Arabia, by Iran proxy Houthis have increased.

Secondly, in times of dire need, Iran provided its airspace for Qatar Airways to continue its operation or else the airline would have faced a massive economic loss. The cooperation between both countries has certainly helped Qatar to avert the looming crisis.

Read more: Saudis say: “we don’t want war; but will defend ourselves”

All hands on deck

For the strategy to bear success against Iran, it is important that the country is not left with any breathing space which countries like Qatar, China and Russia are providing in the form of trade. The United States and its allies in the Gulf are pushing Iran to retreat its strategic gains in the Middle East or in other words, orchestrating a regime change inside the country.

Gulf Cooperation Council, a body primarily founded to keep the threat of Iran away, is important in this regard. After two years of hard-line approach, Saudi Arabia is now trying to use the diplomacy with Qatar so that its ties with Iran could be neutralized. But the precedence predicts that it is not unlikely to be successful as Qatar has managed to keep itself significant for all the stakeholders in its own national interest for a long time.

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