GCC ministers sign deal to end tensions with Qatar

GCC

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Potentially ending months of strained relations between Qatar and its regional neighbors, members of the Gulf Cooperation Council yesterday announced that an agreement has been reached to ensure the interests, security and stability of each nation.

An accord was signed by the six-member bloc last night during an extraordinary session in Riyadh, which was attended by Qatar’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah.

In a statement, the GCC said, as posted on QNA:

“It was agreed to adopt mechanisms to guarantee a collective framework and to ensure that policies of any of the GCC countries would not affect interests, security and stability of the countries or undermine their sovereignty…

Their Highnesses and Excellencies agreed the importance of proper fulfillment of the commitments undertaken, in order to safeguard the achievements and to move forward – by the grace of Allah – into a new phase of cohesion to surpass difficulties and challenges and to meet aspirations of the peoples of the member states.”

The GCC also thanked Kuwait for its mediation efforts.

The agreement comes more than a month after Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatar, a move widely regarded as criticism of Doha’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood.

At the time, the three countries said Qatar was not upholding its end of a November 2013 security pact that promised not to meddle in the affairs of its member nations.

Qatar had responded to the withdrawal by saying that it would not “remain on the fringe of history” and planned to continue making its own foreign policy decisions.

Looking forward

No details were provided on how members were expected to uphold the terms of the new accord, and there was no mention of whether the ambassadors would return to Doha.

In the absence of concrete details, speculation has been rife on what this could mean for Qatar.

Several Gulf dailies report unconfirmed sources as saying that the nation had responded to GCC pressure by promising to expel Muslim Brotherhood members and tone down Al Jazeera coverage.

But several analysts remain skeptical that any sweeping changes have been made. Speaking to Doha News, Michael Stephens, deputy director of the Royal United Services Institute in Qatar, a British think tank, said:

“Rumors that the spat was over have been swirling for a week or so, so the agreement is therefore not a surprise. However it does initially seem that the concessions made by Qatar to placate the Saudis and Emiratis are fairly cosmetic.

As such I don’t see how the structural issues that caused the rift in the first place have been completely healed. What it does show is that Saudi Arabia’s position was not as dominant as had been supposed – the possibility of a deeply divided GCC seems to have forced all sides to a compromise. For now tensions will cool, but underlying problems will remain for some time to come.”

Thoughts?

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