Despite its continued success worldwide, Qatar would like a resolution to the GCC dispute.

Today marks the second anniversary of when Saudi Arabia led The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt on an unprecedented blockade of Qatar.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) collapsed when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE enforced an embargo on Doha in 2017, which was also joined by Egypt. The quartet claimed that the rulers in Doha held unfavorable relationships with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood.

According to Bloomberg, the four blockading nations thought the embargo would shake Qatar’s economy and weaken its ruling Al Thani family, forcing them to fall in line with the Saudi-led Arab phalanx against Iran. The embargo failed.
Qatar has become stronger. Forced into self-sufficiency, the nation took advantage of its reserves of natural gas and built up other industries to create an unfaltering and buoyant Qatari economy. Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani now enjoys the status of a resistance hero, dubbed “Tamim the Glorious” by locals.

Qatar has deepened its relations with Iran without compromising ties with the US —which maintains the vast Central Command forward HQ in the Al Udeid airbase. Qatar has also grown closer to Turkey, which also has a military base south of Doha, and has forged close ties with other nations throughout the world.

The embargo continues. Qatar now seems comfortable with its independent status and each side has made it clear that a return to the pre-embargo status quo is not necessary, or even desirable.

Sources state that this is a tricky situation for Kuwait and Oman, the two other GCC members, which have preserved ties with Qatar. But the very same insiders state that there are no calls for either state to make a choice between the two camps, and the only country inconvenienced by the GCC split is the US. Bloomberg states that if President Trump is genuinely interested in talking to the Iranians, with or without the preconditions enumerated by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, then he’s better off having the Qataris (as well as the Omanis and Kuwaitis) standing apart. Given Iran’s distrust of American intentions, Washington could benefit from having several backchannels to Tehran.

For the Qataris, playing the go-between would underscore their indispensability. This is why Qatar’s foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, visited Tehran last month, after Iran announced it was resuming the enrichment of uranium.

And despite its continued success worldwide, Qatar would still like a resolution to the GCC dispute. A spokeswoman for Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that “intransigence” on the part of the Saudi-led bloc of states is hindering efforts to resolve an ongoing crisis in inter-Arab relations.

“Continuation of the crisis will undermine the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and make the violation of human rights the new status quo,” Lolwah al-Khater said. “Qatar doesn’t want to see this division continue,” Al-Khater told the Anadolu Agency. “The familial ties binding the Gulf States remain intact despite the continuation of the crisis for the two years now.”

Despite the crisis, the spokeswoman said, Doha “remains committed to military and security-related cooperation [with fellow Arab states] at both the regional and international levels”.

Al-Khater commended ongoing mediation efforts by Kuwait aimed at resolving the crisis. “Kuwait has spared no effort to find a solution and bring the views of both sides closer together,” she said. “However, continued intransigence on the part of the blockading states, their ongoing policy of escalation, and their inability to retreat from steps already taken against Qatar have all served to obstruct mediation efforts,” she concluded.

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Author

Omar Hajjar is a journalist based in the UK. An investigative reporter, he has lived in 3 different countries in the Middle East over the past 10 years.

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