Saudi King Salman has invited Qatar’s emir to an annual meeting next week of the Gulf regional bloc in Riyadh, the Qatari foreign ministry said, amid a two-year-old diplomatic crisis in the region. This is a major breakthrough that marks the first official starting point which may lead to a peaceful settlement between Qatar and the countries that imposed a blockade on it.
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) December 4, 2019
After several months of efforts of the allies and friends, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are heading towards a major breakthrough which is being seen as a great success by political commentators.
The 40th session of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit is scheduled to take place in the Saudi capital on December 10. “The Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, received a written message from King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to attend the GCC Supreme Council 40th session,” Qatar’s foreign ministry said on its website on Tuesday.
“The message was received by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, during his meeting today with the GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani,” the statement added. It did not specify if Doha had accepted the invitation, which comes amid signs of a thaw in tensions that have fractured the regional bloc.
Qatari FM visited Saudi Arabia?
International media reports claim that Qatar’s foreign minister made an unannounced (secret) visit to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, last month. The reports being led by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and Reuters News Agency, could not independently be verified. Neither Riyadh nor Doha has issued any statement in this regard. However, there is predominant perception and circumstantial evidence which suggests that Qatari FM might have visited SA.
Reports claim that during his visit, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani met senior Saudi officials and made an offer to end the rift between Qatar and its blockading neighbors.
Qatar’s foreign minister has made an unannounced visit to Riyadh, amid signs that a 2-1/2-year rift among US-allied Gulf Arab states could soon subside. https://t.co/phxCjwJgx9
— Algemeiner (@Algemeiner) November 30, 2019
GCC Countries Want Qatar to ‘Do More’
On June 5, 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt cut diplomatic ties and trade relations with Qatar, closing land, air and sea links, as they accused Doha of supporting “terrorism” and their regional rival, Iran. Doha vehemently denies the charges and says the boycott aims to impinge on its sovereignty.
The boycotting nations set 13 demands for lifting the boycott, including the closing down of Al Jazeera Media Network, shuttering a Turkish military base and reducing ties with Iran.
The blockade has created problems not only for Qatar at a structural level but also for the children. Recently, Maryam bint Abdullah al-Attiyah, Secretary-General National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), explained how children are being affected by this unilateral decision of the Arab states.
Al-Attiyah pointed to “the seriousness of the violations affecting Qatari children as a result of the blockade imposed on the country, expressing regret that the celebration of the Universal Children’s Day coincided with the continuing violations and discriminatory measures of the blockade countries, which did not exclude any category of Qatari society, including children”.
Is Sports Diplomacy Working?
Qatar is viewing the participation of Saudi Arabia and UAE in a key football tournament as a sign of vindication and diplomatic success. Qatar believes it is going to be a “breakthrough” in resolving the Gulf crisis that will be followed by new steps, a senior Kuwait official has said.
— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) November 25, 2019
Last week, Saudi Arabia, as well as allies the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, announced they would compete for the Arabian Gulf title in Doha from November 26 despite their two-year boycott of Qatar.
It is important to note that His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah of Kuwait has categorically stated that the dispute between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors “is no longer acceptable” and must be resolved. He was addressing the opening session of parliament’s new term, Sheikh Sabah said the boycott has greatly weakened the unity of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), of which Qatar is a member.