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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Qatar views Saudi Arabia’s participation in sports as major ‘diplomatic breakthrough’

Qatar sees the participation of Saudi Arabia and UAE in the international sports tournament as a major breakthrough. But the question is whether Qatar will be able to achieve something on ground through smart and intelligent diplomacy or not?

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.

In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt broke off diplomatic and transportation links with Qatar over its support of extremist groups.

Last Tuesday, 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.

The trio, along with Egypt, continues to ban direct air, sea and land travel to Qatar over claims Doha backs radical Islamists and is too soft on Tehran. Qatar vehemently denies the allegations.

Read more: Saudi Arabia and Qatar Signal Resolving Tensions Through Football

These countries indulged in an onslaught of mis and disinformation about Qatar in attempts to cause a regime change. However, a Saudi official was quoted saying that Qatar is taking steps to resolve tensions, as published by Dubai-based Gulf News.

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”.

She added that these violations against Qatari children, even children from the blockade observing countries, are no longer hidden because of the deprivation of their basic rights, especially the right to family reunification with their parents, where Qatari children were prevented from traveling and settling with their parents, only because they had Qatari citizenship.

Furthermore, Al-Attiyah said that the arbitrary decision affected infants and deprived them of their parents, while others found themselves victims because blockade countries’ citizens were forcibly separated from their Qatari husbands or wives. It is a matter of serious human rights which is affecting the lives of many in Qatar and beyond.

Kuwait has since attempted to defuse the row that has taken its toll on the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). “The agreement of the Gulf teams to take part in the 24th Gulf Cup in Qatar provides a clear indication that a breakthrough has taken place,” Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al Jarallah said, according to Kuwaiti newspaper Al Anba.

The tournament, the Gulf’s most prestigious football event, is due to kick off on Tuesday.

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.

“It is no longer acceptable or bearable for the dispute that erupted between our GCC brethren to continue,” Sheikh Sabah, 90, told parliament in his first public appearance since traveling abroad for medical treatment in early September.

Read more: Ending blockade: Qatar and Saudi Arabia are moving towards a major breakthrough

Sheikh Sabah, who has been acting as a mediator to resolve the dispute, said the “row has weakened our capabilities and threatened our achievements”, calling for a negotiated solution. The Amir called for national unity in the face of regional developments and protests in several Arab countries.