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Monday, January 17, 2022

Saudi Arabia’s king invites Qatar’s Amir Tamim to GCC summit in Riyadh

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The previous summit took place in January this year and saw the signing of the Al-Ula Declaration.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud has invited Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to attend the 42nd session of the Supreme Council of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf [GCC] in Riyadh.

According to the Amiri Diwan, the invitation was delivered to Sheikh Tamim through Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah Al-Saud during a visit to Doha on Sunday.

This comes after earlier reports revealed that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS] will be heading to Qatar on Wednesday as part of a five-day Gulf tour, which started on Monday.

MBS’s upcoming regional tour is the first to take place since the 41st Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] summit in Al-Ula, which took place on 5 January this year. The summit saw the signing of the Al-Ula declaration between the GCC and Egypt, ending an illegal air, land and sea blockade imposed on Qatar in 2017.

Doha-Riyadh relations have particularly improved since the signing of the accord.

Saudi Crown Prince MBS to visit Qatar in coming days: reports

Sources noted that the crown prince’s visit focuses on enhancing cooperation between the GCC countries in all fields, as well as issues concerning the region. These include the outcomes of the comprehensive Yemeni National Dialogue Conference and UN Security Council Resolution No. 2216.

The Iranian nuclear file is also on the agenda, as talks aimed at reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] continue to take place in Vienna.

The JCPOA and impact of Iran’s nuclear activity on the region are among the main topics to be discussed at the 42nd GCC summit, reportedly taking place on 14 December.

Regional mediator

When the GCC crisis was resolved earlier this year, Qatar offered to mediate between Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran. On the other hand, it offered to mediate between Abu Dhabi, Tehran and Ankara.

In January, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani called for talks to deescalate tensions between major players in the region in an interview with Bloomberg.

MBS’s trip comes around the same timing as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Qatar, creating speculations over a potential meeting between the two.

“Given the close timing of the two officials and the fact that Doha had publicly offered to mediate between them, the stalled rapprochement effort between Turkey and Saudi Arabia will likely be discussed behind closed doors via Doha,” Dr. Ali Bakir, Assistant Professor at Qatar University’s Ibn Khaldon Center, told Doha News.

While Dr. Bakir noted that no such meeting is confirmed, he said that reconciliation between the two countries would also boost Qatar’s “geopolitical status and role”.

“The Turkish officials already expressed their will to move on in normalising relations with Riyadh, yet one hand doesn’t clap. If the crown prince decides that the interest of Saudi Arabia is above the personal calculations or reservations, then we might witness a breakthrough soon between the two regional players,” said Dr. Bakir.

The 2017 GCC crisis was triggered when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt launched an illegal land, air and sea blockade on Qatar over claims that is sponsors terrorism. Doha has vehemently denied those allegations.

The quartet claimed the move was due to Qatar’s relations with Iran and Turkey, both of which have had their own political rivalries with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Almost a year into the Al-Ula accord, signed between the GCC countries and Egypt, there have appeared to be changes in Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s foreign policies.

Saudi Arabia and Iran have engaged in several rounds of talks over the past months, with positive statements being released from both sides.

Meanwhile, the UAE’s top national security adviser Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan is reportedly visiting Iran on Monday to discuss bilateral ties between the two countries, a move that suggests a thaw in Tehran-Abu Dhabi relations.

“He will meet secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council [SNSC] Ali Shamkhani and other Iranian officials in Tehran,” said Iran’s Nournews, which is affiliated to the SNSC.

Last month, UAE President’s diplomatic adviser Anwar Gargash said his country was “taking steps to de-escalate tensions with Iran as part of a policy choice towards diplomacy and away from confrontation”.


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