Saudi, UAE and Bahraini envoys to return to Qatar
The agreement 'promises the opening of a new page that will present a strong foundation'
An unannounced meeting between Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders ended Sunday evening after resolving a long-standing schism with fellow member-state Qatar, Al Arabiya News Channel’s correspondent reported.
A result of the meeting, the Saudi, Emirati and Bahraini ambassadors to Qatar will return to their posts in Doha following eight months of tense relations.
A day after the extraordinary meeting, Saudi King Abdullah Abdulaziz received a telephone call from the Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim al-Thani, the Saudi News Agency (SPA) reported. The two leaders discussed the two countries’ relations and the latest development in the region.
Meanwhile, the Gulf assembly on Sunday evening reached an agreement that “promises the opening of a new page that will present a strong base, especially in light of the sensitive circumstances the region is undergoing,” the GCC said in a joint statement.
“Based on this, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have decided to return their ambassadors to Doha,” it said.
Additionally, the annual GCC summit was also confirmed to take place on Dec. 9 to Dec. 10 in Doha, the correspondent reported.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain all withdrew their ambassadors to Doha in March, sparking one of the GCC’s worst diplomatic rows since its creation in 1981.
The leaders, who travelled with their foreign ministers and other cabinet members or senior officials, were greeted by Crown Prince Mugran bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif al-Zayani, according to SPA.
Kuwait’s Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah has been leading efforts to bridge the gap between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
The spat was instigated by Qatar’s support of certain movements and groups that stirred unrest in some states, said Khaled al-Matrafi, regional manager of Al Arabiya News Channel in Riyadh.
These groups, which adopted “orientations and policies that opposed those of the GCC, posed the most major points of conflict and led to the withdrawal of the ambassadors,” he said.
The agreement marks an end to the crisis between Qatar and the other GCC members, Jamal Kashoggi, a Saudi writer and commentator based in Riyadh, told Al Arabiya News.
“The Qataris showed good will, his majesty the king accepted that, so I think it is over,” he said, provided that the states recognize “that our unity is more important than our differences,” which was reiterated in the joint statement.
In another statement on the official Kuwait news agency, Kuwait Parliament Speaker Marzouk al-Ghanem voiced “optimism” on the “efforts” by Sheikh Sabah to end the differences.
“We hope the Riyadh meeting today comes to a happy ending that strengthens the GCC,” he said.
Kashoggi also noted that the meeting signaled the beginning of a new approach adopted by GCC members when working together, which is “based on respecting the independence of each country, as long as no other country could hurt the security of the other.”
“What happened last night with the agreement is that GCC unity is way more important than any difference between GCC countries,” he said.
As to the change in policy to abide by the agreement, he predicted that the media wars between the UAE and Qatar would come to an end.
“Each side began to cool it and calm down with the inflammatory rhetoric and that is good that is very positive because it was very much wrong for both countries to do this exchange,” he said, adding that how Qatar would continue its policy with Egypt is another thing to monitor.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE accused Qatar of meddling in their internal affairs by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been designated a “terrorist” group by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.
Doha asked Brotherhood leaders to leave Qatar earlier this year following diplomatic pressure from Saudi Arabia.