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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Ex-adviser to UAE says ‘Qatar won’ after end to three-year dispute

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The Al-Ula declaration will not be published but includes basic reunion principles.

Qatar has won the GCC standoff against Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, a prominent UAE commentator and former government adviser said.

“You could say Qatar has won,” Dubai-based professor of politics, Abdulkhaleq Abdulla told the Financial Times in an interview after the announcement to end the Gulf dispute was made in Saudi Arabia.

“The cost of fighting was too high — there is a realisation now that this is the black sheep of the family and we just have to put up with it,” he added. “These have been the worst three-and-a-half years in the history of the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council],” he added.

After the blockade was first announced in June 2017, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt announced a list of 13 demands to lift the illegal siege. 

As part of the demands, they called for shutting down Qatar-based international media network Al Jazeera, cutting off all ties with Iran and severing “all ties to terrorist organisations.” 

Commenting on the list of demands this week, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash admitted they were a “maximalist negotiating point” designed to apply pressure on Doha.

“This is something that we have always said – that the 13 demands, at the time, were considered, what I would call, a maximalist negotiating position,” the UAE official said on CNN after ties between the four countries and Qatar were restored

Timeline: How the GCC crisis erupted over three years

“These are what I would call general outlines of how this relationship will move on and I think we’re very satisfied with this and we want to build on it,” he added.

Meanwhile, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said the Al-Ula declaration was not a victory for Saudi Arabia or for Qatar, but instead a victory for the GCC, adding that the process would take time.

While the Al-Ula declaration will not be published as agreed, it contained basic principles for reconciliation. 

“The Al-Ula Declaration’s specific rules are general rules and key principles and their publication has not been discussed. I do not know the extent of the interest of the other countries in publishing the summit’s final declaration,” Al-Thani said. 

On January 5, the countries involved in the dispute announced they would fully restore diplomatic relations. 


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