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Qatar crisis needs to end soon

Updated on July 15, 2017

Crisis in the Gulf

If the Qatar-Gulf crisis does not end soon, Doha will be blamed for putting the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) project, created in 1981, in jeopardy and might even be responsible for its dismantlement. The crisis, begun on 5 June as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut-off diplomatic relations with Qatar, has to be dealt with and quickly contained if the future of the GCC is to remain intact, secure and prosperous.

Each day the crisis continues, one that started because Doha has been accused of allegedly following an independent foreign policy, aiding, abetting and financing terror groups, as well as having rapprochement with Iran, will lead to the possibility of greater deterioration in the Gulf as a regional system and therefore demise of the GCC.

Gulf leaders, and not just the protagonists, of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain but Qatar, Oman and Kuwait, have to take a back seat from the media ballyhoo that is being aired rife on the airwaves and move away from the deadly brink that may lead to greater disaster and result in a fratricidal GCC split. It could end the council that has been developing and gaining much respectability not only in the Arab region but the world as a successful 6-member regional bloc that gained much currency and homogeneity over the past years and decades.

The current mediation going on by the Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah to bring the protagonists together and end the dispute that erupted against Qatar by the other Gulf leaders, who have been angered by its stances and blame it for the deteriorating political and security situation in the region has to continue. This is so that normality can be restored once and for all and the concept of “business as usual” can prevail once again among the GCC countries, and end the external meddling by countries from outside the Gulf region.

Kuwait has had much experience in mediation. It brought the protagonists together in 2014, but it then took nine months to heal the rift that developed also mainly because similar reasons of undermining the political and security situation in the area. No doubt this round of mediation is expected to take longer and seen as more difficult, and at times, inextricable. This time around both parties, the “trio” countries and Qatar, see themselves as the aggrieved sides, and therefore what is needed is “hard-ball” talking. This time around, Qatar is expected to make firmer commitments and do a 180 degree turnaround in its foreign policy and align its self more with the Gulf countries and GCC as a regional bloc and a system to ensure greater political harmony and security.

The Kuwaitis feel the ongoing dispute must be resolved through inter-Gulf relations and not through inter-regional actors or through international powers like the Americans. Already Turkish Prime Minister Racip Tayib Erdogan, has been extending a material hand to Qatar because of the ongoing land, sea and air blockade. France, USA, Britain and Germany are calling for greater dialogue and restoration of relations between the GCC member countries.

The politics of axis and the retrenchment in positions on both sides - for Qatar argues it won’t alter its policies and agree to a “Gulf dialogue” unless the imposed embargo is lifted - has to give way to greater flexibility if the regional bloc is to return to its status quo ante, and recrimination replaced by equanimity and brotherliness.

What is needed as well, and alongside Kuwaiti mediation, is the GCC, as an organisation, has to be involved in resolving the dispute. So far it has laid dormant and taken a back seat. But as a council, it has to taken an active stance according to its basic charter whose Article 10 impel it to form a conflict resolution committee to deal with any problem between the six-member states of the GCC.

So far this has not happened but such a committee needs to be formed quickly because it would serve as a sort of adjudicator because of its “objectiveness” and separate the parties to the conflict and therefore reduce the level of tension between the antagonists while examining the issue and coming up with a resolution that would satisfy all of the parties.

Secretary-General of the GCC Abdulatif Al Zayani has to move forward according to Article 16 of the basic charter and carry out his duties aimed for a resolution of the Qatar-Gulf crisis in an objective manner. He is presently under criticism by some quarters as failing to carry out his duty because his country Bahrain is one of the protagonists in the ongoing dispute.

But regardless, all this can be altered if the GCC does take a stronger stand and refuse to be sidelined where the present fray stops being locked in an inter-states framework and takes on a collective process amid at conflict resolution.

Although there has been many disputes in the past among GCC countries, this is the first that such an embroilment may become potentially devastating from a political perspective, security-wise and on the economic level. If this dispute is not resolved soon, the negative implications could be immense for the entire bloc were for the first time the politics of axis and recrimination leads to further digging in the boots and the introduction of new allies and actors in the Gulf region that would further threaten the political, economic and cultural homogeneity of the Gulf system, the GCC bloc and region.


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