The 2017 boycott of Qatar by the rest of the GCC began as a result of a letter sent by Qatari officials to the GCC demanding the cancellation of the two-part Riyadh Agreement, documents revealed in the WTO report released Tuesday showed.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) released its report following an investigation into Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s disagreement over intellectual property protections. The WTO found that Saudi Arabia’s actions in boycotting Qatar were justified as the Kingdom had legitimate security concerns regarding Qatar.
The report showed that on February 19, 2017 Qatar’s Foreign Minister had sent a letter to the Secretary General of the GCC calling on all members to agree to terminate the Riyadh Agreement.
The agreement, signed in 2013 by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar, with Bahrain and the UAE joining in 2014, called for the end of Qatar’s support for extremist group the Muslim Brotherhood, and the end of Qatar’s harboring of people with harmful agenda toward the GCC. Qatar was also asked to no longer support any organization fighting legimate governments in Yemen and Egypt.
Qatar’s letter in 2017 was considered a repudiation of this agreement by Saudi Arabia and its allies, the WTO report asserts.
The Riyadh Agreement allowed all countries taking part to take appropriate action should Qatar fail to uphold its end of the bargain, resulting in the boycott that began in 2017 and continues to this day.
Despite the boycott, Doha has refused to halt its activities and relations have not been restored.
Saudi Arabia and other countries in the GCC did say last week, however, that they would be open to restoring diplomatic relations with Qatar, but only when Doha agrees to meet the demands of the Arab Quartet.
“If Qatar responds to their demands, then it is with great openness, the Arab Quartet will embrace Qatar and its people, who want to return to their normal place among the peoples of the GCC,” Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Abdullah al-Mouallimi told the BBC on Saturday.
Qatar’s failure to follow through with the Quartet’s demands is based on Doha thinking it could build strong ties with external alliances rather than with countries within the GCC, he added.
Qatar has attempted to build relations with Iran and Turkey, despite both countries facing criticism for their foreign policy interventions across the region.