Have GCC countries reached reconciliation?
The stability of the GCC countries is a very important element, not only to its people, but to the region as a whole
Statements released following the latest meeting between foreign ministers of the GCC countries in Riyadh said the diplomats conducted “an overall review of the procedures in place pertaining to foreign and security policies,” and that the group “agreed to adopt mechanisms to guarantee a collective framework and to ensure that policies of any of the GCC countries would not affect the interests, security and stability of the countries, nor undermine their sovereignty.”
In this regard, the diplomats have confirmed their respective countries' agreement on the ways to implement the Riyadh agreement, which is based on the principles of the GCC statute.
Of course, it is impossible that anyone can truly understand these statements without using an interpreter. Vagueness is our preferred language in the Gulf, relying on signs, and a sign is all that a free man needs to understand.
The stability of the GCC countries is a very important element, not only to its people, but to the region as a whole; a region that’s in desperate need for a safety net and stability. And if these forces, which might look weak and calm, decided to join hands and unify their policies, they could change the face of the region for the better.Abdulrahman al-Rashed
In fact, decrypting the statement is quite a difficult task. How would someone understand the meaning of “agreeing on the importance of the strict implementation of the commitments undertaken” when the statement doesn’t define what should be implemented and what commitments were made?
It goes without saying that Kuwait played a positive role to stop the defragmentation of the GCC council, the last stable entity in the region.
Prior to Kuwaiti mediation, the dispute was quickly slipping into a point of no return after three countries recalled their ambassadors from Qatar in protest and there were plans to impose sanctions, a move which would extend far beyond the previous symbolic and diplomatic measures.
The expression of “strict implementation” shows us that there are specific measures that need to be taken and that there is a team who is responsible for overseeing the implementation. Without announcing the annexes of the agreement, the door will remain open to speculate on the banned and tolerated activities.
Some of the reasons behind the dispute between Qatar and its three GCC peers, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain, are known and publicly debated, and are possibly the easiest to resolve. Others, however, are less palpable and could lead to the collapse of the GCC and the Gulf front.
The disputes between GCC countries are as wide as the map of the Middle East; from Egypt to Yemen, Syria, Libya and Tunisia, but the hidden disputes can go as deep as sovereignty itself!
Whether the Riyadh agreement represents a true reconciliation between the countries or is just simply pacification, the leaders of the GCC countries have a major responsibility to admit that the value of their council is greater than their trillions’ rich investment funds, established for rainy days. In the days of calm, it’s easy to mess with relations and turn differences into greater disputes and political games, but nobody knows when the dark clouds will accumulate and a storm will hit.
The stability of the GCC countries is a very important element, not only to its people, but to the region as a whole; a region that’s in desperate need for a safety net and stability. And if these forces, which might look weak and calm, decided to join hands and unify their policies, they could change the face of the region for the better.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on April 19, 2014.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.