An eight-month spat between Qatar and three of its Gulf neighbors appears to be finally winding to a close.
Late Sunday evening, the official news agencies of Qatar and Saudi Arabia reported that ambassadors from Bahrain, KSA and the UAE would be returning to Doha after representatives from the countries hashed out a new accord to end their dispute:
“During the meeting, they reached the Riyadh Complementary Arrangement, which pumps in for more unity of the GCC member states, their interests and future of their peoples.
The Arrangement is heralding opening a new page, which will be a strong prerequisite to drive the joint action procession and to move towards a bold and cohesive Gulf entity, especially, amid the current critical situation the region undergoes, which demands doubling the efforts and closing the ranks to protect their security and stability.”
Analysts have previously suggested that the GCC was under pressure from its western allies to resolve their internal differences and confront external threats in the region, namely ISIL.
However, the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Syria failed to immediately end the dispute between the countries, which publicly erupted in March when Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE announced they were jointly withdrawing their ambassadors from Doha.
Those three countries accused Qatar of violating an agreement among GCC members not to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.
That was widely interpreted to be a reference to Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which Saudi Arabia and the UAE view as a threat to their own authority and have banned as a terrorist organization.
The three countries also apparently took issue with reporting done by Qatar-based and funded Al Jazeera Media Network.
There has been talk of resolution before. In April, senior Gulf leaders apparently signed a statement in Riyadh to ensure the security, stability and interests of each Gulf state without compromising their sovereignty.
At the time, Qatar’s foreign minister said the agreement signaled that “the dispute is over” between Doha and its neighbors.
But there were few details released about the deal, and in May, Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs said that the GCC states were still “working on overcoming differences.”
Since then, Qatar has made some concessions to smooth over relations – including asking seven senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood to leave the country.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia view the Brotherhood’s brand of political Islam as a threat to their authority and have banned the organization, designating it a terrorist group.
Qatar also became one of the last Gulf states to pass a restrictive new cybercrime law that, in compliance with a GCC agreement, criminalizes online insults of the region’s royal families.
And finally, the government here recently introduced new rules for local charities that send money abroad. That move was seen as a response to criticism that Qatar was turning a blind eye to individuals raising money for armed groups fighting in Syria.
However, last month, Gulf security sources said that during a meeting between Qatar’s Emir and Saudi’s King Abdullah, Sheikh Tamim was told “There is progress to be recognized, but more still needs to be done.”
It’s not clear if Qatar made further concessions ahead of last night’s agreement, which came several days after two of its Gulf neighbors signaled their ongoing displeasure with Doha.
Both the UAE and Bahrain abruptly withdrew their participation in the upcoming Men’s Handball World Championship, which is being held in Doha in January.
at last – a sigh of relief
A huge victory for Shk. Tammim and his Foreign Affairs Minister. The new and less experienced team was put to the test and weathered it through. Though Doha made concessions, it did not comply with any of AD demands. Instead it complied with most of Riyadh requests, which included the new cyber-crime law and the deportation active MB members. Thank you dohanews.co for pointing out Doha was the last of the six State GCC members to introduce this law and it only did so to appease Riyadh. Let us wait to see if anyone ever gets convicted under this new law.
AD was forced to reconcile as Riyadh did not want to drag this any longer. And the press, posting pictures of all GCC leadership involved paying respect to the King of Saudi Arabia and praising Saudi for it role gave Riyadh an out where it could still save face. Riyadh knew Doha met all its obligations and had little standing to choose not to allow their ambassador back. There is too much at stake for both countries by straining the Doha-Riyadh relationship.
What was missed is no credit was given in the formal press to Kuwait. Kuwait where the true broker of this resolution. They pretty much were the ones who told AD politicians to grow up. Note I say AD and not UAE, as Dubai ruler and his governing body where never happy about the political escalation. In fact MBR of Dubai is the PM of the UAE, however MBZ the Crown Prince of AD (not UAE) was the real figure behind the escalation.
The biggest win is off course was what Shk. Tammim said during the Qatar Shu’ra Council opening meeting speech last week. He said Qatar would host the GCC meet this Dec in Doha and we would not settle for anywhere else. Bahrain and AD unofficially declined to attend and would not only not send low level delegates, but no delegates at all. With Saudi Arabic confirmed it’s attendance to Doha in Dec, Bahrain and AD are now seriously considering their next step. They may afford to lose their relationship with Doha, but not Riyadh. And they’ve always played it that this was a three-state dispute against Qatar.
What’s worst for AD is over the past 8 month there was an aggressive online campaign driven to demin Doha. This was mostly done through twitter and also through internal news agencies. The twitter feed of two of the AD’s MBZ “cultural advisors” was filled with very degrading language against Doha accusing Doha of holding political prisoners under the Sheraton hotel (I’m not making this up) to outright name calling. They were joined by a group of 6 or 7 twitter accounts, with a cumulative of over 300k followers who would all systematically slander Doha and Qatari figures on every piece of news which came out. Like what Fox News does to Obama, pick a work or topic of the week and keep playing it out.
Well unfortunately the two cultural advisors got in a car accident over the weekend in AD. Both have died in the car accident. Sad yes, but when they died their twitter accounts were closed out. And the other 6 or so twitter accounts were also suspended by their family members. Immediately afterwards, as I understand, the fake account were opened again as to disconnect any suspicion these accounts had any to do with the deceased two.
Not sure if I’m making sense. It would make much more sense if I could type it in Arabic.
Great overview. You should write this as an opinion piece for Doha News giving a bit more detail.
No thank you, that makes perfect sense. Great insight. Good to see Qatar stands its ground, sure they have made some mistakes over the last few years but they have only recently come out of the shadow of Saudi and the UAE. AD response is childish, probably jealous of the limelight Qatar has been in recently, but probably not over the WC….
I’d be interested in hearing the conspiracy theories in the Arabic press about the death of the two advisors.
No conspiracy they were involved in a car accident as a result of the driver from the other car driving recklessly .. Also it was published in the press both were cousins which I did not know and both were high ranking officers in UAE’s intellenagce service under the MoI in the UAE…
What did AD want that Saudi told them to forget it? Are you referring to the deporting of Qaradawi or something else? Thanks for the write up btw.
Deportation of Qaradawi, deportation of a Palestinian/Israeli advisor to the diwan who was a member of Israeli govt at one point, a formal apology,
Hands off Libya and what I understand to contribute financial support to Egypt
Has Qaradawi gone?
But how is this a huge victory to shiekh Tamim? The argument was/is simple. It was hanging on whether or not Qatar will cut its ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. That was the root cause of the problem and that is why Qatar was left alone. Now, at this time, Qatar needs to be alone as much as a shark needs a dentist. Look around you, Qatar’s WC/human rights/terror funding scandals are making Qatar digg its own grave and the very last thing Qatar needs now is less friends. Qatar’s ambitions are not synched up with Qatar’s ability to handle the soft and hard logistics of things. Dumping money to fix things is a philosophy that worked and works well in the GCC..It is not proving to be as effective elsewhere. Also, Qatar does not seem to please all its friends/allies at once. But, right now, not having KSA’s support is like daring the devil himself. Yes it is a smart move to yield and give away someone for someone else. It is politics after all. But, I would be less naive on calling this a victory. I would say it is a late self realization of one’s true geopolitical size.
The next few days/weeks are crucial to know who was the real winner in here. I would move my microscope and crystal ball to show me events in Syria and a few other Arab countries to know all that..
Now I can stop stocking on milk / rice and daily essentials….just kidding..
You joke but it’s true.. It was an eye opener for many.. We realized how much we relay on Saudi and UAE for everything from tissue to diapers to eggs and milk to poultry and machinery… This if anything has been a strong drive for our govt to invest more in industries that produce basic goods
First things first…
The priority now is on pioneering fake clouds that allow rain and snow via a mobile application. Then, state of the art cooling stadia, which will transform the desert heat into a north pole sensation. After all that, we can look at minor things like sewer drains, proper electric infrastructure and basic human needs.