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Thursday, February 25, 2021

GCC meet in Doha apparently postponed as Gulf tensions continue

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Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) - Flags flying high
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) - Flags flying high

Updated on Nov. 11 to include information on the UAE withdrawing from the handball tournament.

A meeting of foreign ministers from across the Gulf Cooperation Council that was supposed to be held in Doha today has apparently been pushed back due to ongoing differences between some of the participating nations.

The government leaders were expected to convene to prepare for a December GCC summit that is also slated to be held in Qatar’s capital.

According to Gulf News, this week’s meeting is likely to be delayed by several days amid lingering tensions between Qatar and its fellow GCC members Bahrain, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The news is a further sign of friction among the neighboring states and comes days after Bahrain announced it was withdrawing from the 2015 Men’s Handball World Championship, which Qatar will host in January.

Yesterday, the UAE also said it was pulling out of the tournament.

In a statement, the International Handball Federation said:

“The issue will be dealt with by the Council of the International Handball Federation in its next meeting scheduled for 21 November 2014, when a corresponding decision regarding this matter will be made and announced.”

While no reason was given for the two countries withdrawing from the tournament, many speculated it was a boycott related to the ongoing diplomatic disputes. On Twitter, many Gulf residents debated whether political disagreements should spill over into sports:

https://twitter.com/htooranis/status/531756557600436224

Deep divide

The strained relations between Qatar and some of its fellow GCC members was publicly exposed in March, when Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Doha.

GCC

The countries accused Qatar of violating a security pact that prohibited GCC members from interfering in the internal affairs of other members.

It was widely interpreted to be referring to Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which the UAE and Saudi Arabia perceive to be a threat to their authority. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have both banned the Brotherhood and designated it a terrorist organization.

In recent months, Qatar appears to have taken steps to appease its neighbors, namely by expelling seven Brotherhood members from the country. However, this week’s events suggest that tensions remain unresolved, analysts have said.

“The GCC is deeply split on a quite fundamental level,” David Roberts, a lecturer at King’s College London, told Doha News. He added:

“Qatar and the UAE are on the polar opposite ends of this divide. The UAE is seeking to create a new ‘norm’ in the region whereby support of Islamist groups is entirely and completely anathema, verboten, banned, frowned-upon and not done. Abu Dhabi sees these groups as inherently unstable and untrustable. Qatar, in contrast, sees these groups as an indelible part of the region that can’t be simply ignored; better to have them on the inside of the tent.”

Mohammed Jaham Al Kuwari is Qatar's ambassador to the US.
Mohammed Jaham Al Kuwari is Qatar's ambassador to the US.

Qatar’s ambassador to the US, Mohammed Jaham Al Kuwari, went further with this argument over the weekend by linking support for the Muslim Brotherhood with overall security in the region.

Al Kuwari was quoted by Qatar’s state news agency as saying that isolating the Brotherhood and imprisoning its members would create a political vacuum that would enable the rise of groups such as ISIL.

Observers have predicted that the threat posed by the armed organization, which now controls parts of Iraq and Syria, would force the GCC to put its internal differences aside to confront the external threat.

However, Michael Stephens – the deputy-director of the Royal United Services Institute Qatar – told Doha News that the diplomatic dispute continues to drag on.

“The GCC’s penchant for internal disagreements is one of its biggest weaknesses. The truth is that it’s all beginning to look a little immature.”

Thoughts?

25 COMMENTS

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A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago

Won’t be delayed, will be shifted to Riyadh instead. Kuwait Emir came to Doha two days ago on a quick visit, after he visited AD. He gave a last attempt to resolve the issue prior to the said meet in Doha. Unfortunately he was unsuccessful. AD demands Doha apologize for its “wrongdoings,” Doha continues to tell AD to grow up, while asking for the three Qataris in AD prisons back.

Meanwhile, in a very childish fashion, both Bahrain and UAE withdrew from Handball World Cup, to be hosted in Doha in Jan 2015. UAE was no serious contender, but Bahrain has a very promising team and would be an important player. Many Bahrains are saddened as the feel robbed by their own government, since they trained very hard and their handball national team is the strongest national team they have of any other sport.

Meanwhile, Qatar, who tried to appease Riyadh has kicked out the MB from Doha and rolled out the new internet laws similar to the ones in Riyadh which means they can go after any twitter user or blogger who criticizes Riyadh, and by extension AD.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

I think that sums it up well. The GCC will continue to stumble along.

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

The articles in the world press in the last few weeks talking about Qatar have been vitriolic. The UK and US press are asking how on earth we can be an ally of Qatar.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

World press or the telegraph?

Doc
Doc
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Worse, The Mail

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

What I have noticed is that more and more people are now thinking of this rift as being very childish, especially from the UAE. Even serious western political analysts are now using this word.

I don’t recall any other country in recent history that has been criticized for its “childish diplomacy”, not even North Korea (even though it might apply to them). I am pretty sure many Emiratis are very unhappy with this.

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Qatar has ejected just some of the Muslim Brotherhood which is viewed as an empty gesture and inadequate.. With regard to Iraq and Syria the statement that “not all groups are regarded as terrorists” also really doesn’t help. The fact is that by backing certain “rebel” groups Qatar opened the door to a body such as ISIS to wade in and set the agenda, and now the whole GCC is under threat because of it.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

No, I’m afraid you’re wrong. Qatar asked certain and not all members of the MB to leave. Riyadh and Doha came to a comprise that Doha will maintain its relationship with the MB, who Riyadh initially asked Doha to severe. In return Doha agreed to Riyadh’s list of names of active high officials in the MB living in Doha who must leave. These I believe were 7 members in total and have since left to Oslo and London.

AD get even more angered as its agreement with Riyadh was that Doha should severe its relationship completely and deport all members of the MB. Riyadh agreed to comprise with Doha and agreed a list of names without the consult of AD. The issue of the MB between Riyadh and Doha has been settled, other matters remain pending.

In terms of Syria or Iraq, if you believe Qatar paved the way to ISIS then I rest my case. It’s pointless to try to convince you otherwise.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

I am not sure about the Qatar-Saudi deal about the MB. There are reports that some of them were allowed back to Qatar

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

I won’t be suprised if this is true. the last trip by Shk. Tammim to Saudi was to discuss how Qatar had progressed what was required of them. However the Saudi more or less brushed him off and pretty much told him “jump higher.” To which Qatar either back tracked or frooze all other reconciliation efforts till Saudis recognized steps already taken by Qatar towards reconciliation.

Desert Witch
Desert Witch
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Oh great. They (MB) are in London now.
Certainly there are plenty of supporters in UK to keep them happy.

All this sounds more like the clash of the super egos. Fragile male egos are notoriously difficult to deal with and appease and when they are up against other fragile male egos then it’s a no win situation.

Put the women in charge. Let’s see what they can do.

Mr. B
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

One thing to add is how ruthless AD has been with its Al-Islah (a group accused of being a front for the Muslim Brotherhood). A former principal of a school I worked at was arrested and got ten years for that; the crackdown sent shockwaves through Emirati society since nothing like that had ever happened before. No doubt Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed would like to see Qatar doing something similar, which is a cause of difference.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Mr. B

How many of those arrested were given a trail let alone a fair trail? How many were found guilty by association? Has any of their family members have access to them? Were they represented by lawyers?

He sent fighter jets into a sovereign country to quill factions which oppose the gm factions he support…

Read into amnesty international latest human right report for the UAE… Understand Blackwater’s ties with AD..

Behind the big malls, shinny scrapers and inviting society lies a very scary and ruthless regime…. He’s already being nicknamed Gadhfi al sageer, little Gadhfi!

Mr. B
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

I remember getting the chills reading about the arrests; do you have any other sources beyond the highly visible ones (the Libya airstrike, the Amnesty report)? Even Arabic would be just fine. I’m quite keen on finding out more about what people in the Gulf are saying of MBZ and his doings, especially now that the West is celebrating his regime as a “little Sparta.”

Restie
Restie
6 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

The make up of ISIS has nothing to do with funding of the groups that collectively made up rebel forces. ISIS is primarily led by former Baathist military and intelligence officials on the operational end and has accumulated various other smaller jihadi factions. These weren’t the ones receiving Qatari funding, and there is not proof at all of that happening.

Secondly, the GCC has never been under threat from ISIS. They are able to ramble over an disintegrated force like the Iraqi army with ease, but they meet their entire strength in numbers at the Saudi border itself (30k). The Gulf armed forces aren’t battle hardened, but they do have established state institutions that haven’t suffered years of sanctions, infighting, and secondhand weaponry and training.

Guest
Guest
6 years ago

I take it that’s a Bahraini talking about global instability….that’s rich

thedrizzle96
thedrizzle96
6 years ago

How is the situation in Bahrain these day? You don’t see much global news coverage until Formula 1 comes around

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

I did hear the American pilots were complaining of tailgating by UAE F16s and flashing of lights…

Parwaiz Win
Parwaiz Win
6 years ago

I know what is going on … Qatar is suffering from ‘ small dog syndrome’…sooner she learns that she is punching above her weight class…faster will all this problem go away.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Parwaiz Win

دوق عض مكوتك ان شاء الله

Desert Witch
Desert Witch
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

No fair. All trite responses must be in English. Especially if they are funny also.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Desert Witch

Google translate says “Duke biting Mkotk God willing”

Parwaiz Win
Parwaiz Win
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

What does it mean ? Can’t read arabic..

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