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Saturday, January 22, 2022

UAE official backtracks, sees ‘seeds of progress’ in resolving Gulf crisis


Last month, the Abu Dhabi official said there were ‘no chances’ of resolving the Gulf dispute any time soon.

UAE’s Ambassador to Washington Yousef Al-Otaiba stated there were “seeds of progress” and a commitment to “tone things down” in ending the three-year-long blockade on Qatar.

Al-Otaiba’s statements were made virtually on Tuesday to the Hudson Institute, a US think-tank, where he suggested “there’s definitely progress, or at least there are seeds of progress” in the feud.

“There are a lot of commitments … to kind of tone things down, to stand down. If that holds, I think it is promising. I think there is a chance that you can at least begin a process of deconflicting,” said Al-Otaiba.

The UAE official added that time would indicate whether there would be “some kind of concept of a solution”.

His most recent statements come after less-hopeful comments made in November, where he said that there were “no chances” of the blockade ending any time soon.

“I don’t think it gets resolved anytime soon simply because I don’t think there has been any introspection,” Al Otaiba told Israeli outlet, Channel 12 at the time. 

The UAE official even accused Qatar of “playing the victim”.

In the same interview, Otaiba said Doha must comply with the list of 13 demands given in 2017 in order for the blockade to be lifted. Qatari officials have consistently dismissed the demands – which included shutting down Al Jazeera – as a preposterous attempt to strip Qatar of its sovereignty.

Read also: BREAKING: Egypt and the UAE ‘welcome’ Kuwait’s mediating efforts to end Gulf Crisis

“The introspection process did not occur, and they continue to play the victim and continue to pretend to be bullied, but did not address the root causes of the problem, and until you address the root causes of this problem, I do not think this is going to get solved,” Otaiba told his Israeli audience.

Tuesday’s latest comments also follow recent remarks made by Abu Dhabi on the developing movements towards reaching a breakthrough in the ongoing dispute. 

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

The UAE finally spoke up after Kuwait announced “fruitful discussion” towards reconciliation. 

Abu Dhabi’s comments also came shortly after Egypt issued a similar statement saying it welcomed Kuwait’s mediating efforts despite staying 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.

Hafez also expressed his hope in ending the ongoing rift by finding a “holistic” solution that would “seriously” tackle the causes behind it.

Egypt and the UAE are part of the quartet that has been imposing a land, air and sea blockade on Qatar since June 5th 2017.

Read also: GCC Crisis: What’s the international response been so far?

The announcement by Kuwait that a deal had been reached came after Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani confirmed earlier reports about potential developments.

“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.

Saudi Arabia – which is one of the countries involved in the negotiations held in recent weeks – also came out with a statement thanking Kuwait, the key mediator throughout the feud, for their efforts.

“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,” Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan tweeted on Friday.

Questions on the details of the purported deal remain, with analysts saying that these uncertainties will potentially be answered when all Gulf Cooperation Council member states meet later this month for the 41st annual GCC Summit. 

The meeting’s location, previously scheduled to be held in Manama, is still to be confirmed and observers are waiting to see if each country will be represented by its head of state.

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