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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Saudi Arabia pushing for Gulf breakthrough ahead of GCC Summit


More movement is being taken to end the three-year Gulf dispute, with reports saying Riyadh is pushing for a breakthrough ahead of the upcoming GCC Summit in January. 

Saudi Arabia is currently in the process of pushing for a potential resolution to the Gulf crisis just in time for the GCC Summit, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

However, while there have been recent movements towards ending the three-year-long dispute, negotiations will still take months, the source added.

Recent reports suggested that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Qatar are scheduled to meet in January at the GCC Summit, which has been reportedly moved from Manama to Riyadh.

The Gulf countries are expected to negotiate the points of contention and demands that have been in place since the crisis erupted in 2017. This will be carried out through working groups tasked with drafting a final agreement.

Another source also told Reuters that the anticipated deal “could result in a set of principles for negotiations or a more concrete move involving reopening airspace to Qatar as a show of good faith”.

“The Saudis are keen to demonstrate to Biden that they are peacemakers and open to dialogue,” a foreign diplomat in the GCC region told Reuters.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador to the UAE John Rakolta Jr told CNN that ending the Gulf crisis would be this year’s “Christmas gift”.

Read also: GCC crisis: ‘Deal to be finalised at this month’s summit

Recent days witnessed a series of announcements of a potential breakthrough in the crisis, which was triggered in 2017 when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt imposed an illegal air, land and sea blockade on Qatar and falsely accused it of supporting terrorism. 

Qatar has vehemently and consistently denied the charges.

Earlier this month, an announcement by Kuwait stated that a deal had been reached after Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani confirmed earlier reports on potential developments in the dispute.

“We believe the end of the crisis is important for the security of the region and for the sake of our people. This crisis needs to end based on mutual respect and the rights of all people of the Gulf,” he said.

Kuwait has been one of the key mediators throughout the crisis, even after the passing of former ruler, Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah this year.

The mediating country’s efforts have been welcomed by all GCC members. 

“We consider with great appreciation the efforts made by the sisterly State of Kuwait to bridge the gap in viewpoints regarding the Gulf crisis, and we thank the American efforts in this regard, and we look forward to it being successful for the benefit and good of the region,” said Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in a tweet earlier this month.

Days later on December 8, Egypt and the UAE commented on the breakthrough, after remaining silent for days.

In a post on his official Facebook page, Cairo’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ spokesperson, Ahmed Hafez, expressed his country’s appreciation towards Kuwait’s “continuous” efforts towards resolving the ongoing Gulf dispute between Qatar and its neighbours, which has lasted for more than three years now.

The UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash also tweeted that his government “valued the efforts made by Kuwait and the US towards increasing unity within the Arabian Gulf”.

Until now, Bahrain has not commented on the developments, with escalations between Manama and Doha rising amid continuous breaches of territorial waters.

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