Even if Qatar leaves, bloc will not im­plode

Doha’s de­ci­sion to quit Opec sparks spec­u­la­tion about GCC exit as well

Gulf News - - From The Cover - BY HABIB TOUMI

BUREAU CHIEF

Will the 39th GCC sum­mit in Riyadh to­day be as­so­ci­ated with ‘Qa­texit’ if Qatar, one of its six founders, ex­its the 37-year-old al­liance?

Spec­u­la­tion sur­round­ing a pos­si­ble ‘Qa­texit’ is ris­ing amid re­ports that Qataris are se­ri­ously pon­der­ing with­draw­ing from the GCC, days after the coun­try’s En­ergy Min­is­ter, Sa’ad Al Ka’abi, un­ex­pect­edly said his coun­try was pulling out of the Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Petroleum Ex­port­ing Coun­tries (Opec).

“No de­ci­sion has been made yet, but there are dis­cus­sions about the pos­si­bil­ity,” Gulf diplo­mats told Kuwaiti daily Al Rai.

Bahrain, Saudi Ara­bia and the UAE, in ad­di­tion to Egypt, on June 5, 2017, sev­ered their diplo­matic, trade and travel re­la­tions with Qatar and de­spite me­di­a­tion ef­forts led by Kuwait no break­through has been achieved.

The Quar­tet ac­cused Qatar of sup­port­ing ex­trem­ists, ■ in­ter­fer­ence in the do­mes­tic af­fairs of other coun­tries and fund­ing ter­ror­ism. They is­sued a list of 13 de­mands that Qatar should meet ahead of re­sum­ing nor­mal re­la­tions.

How­ever, Qatar de­nied the ac­cu­sa­tions and re­jected the de­mands, re­sult­ing in a cri­sis that has been com­pounded by ag­gres­sive me­dia cam­paigns — un­prece­dented in their na­ture and un­equalled in their scope.

To­day, 18 months into the open cri­sis, and although Qatar was invited to attend the 39th GCC sum­mit, there is spec­u­la­tion that Doha would use ar­gu­ments sim­i­lar to the ones about its with­drawal from Opec to exit the GCC. Qataris said Opec was “just be­ing used for pur­poses that harm our na­tional in­ter­est”, and they could be tempted to make the same claims about the GCC now.

The Qatari crit­i­cism is seen by an­a­lysts as part of a drive that wants an end ei­ther to the cri­sis or to the GCC for fail­ing to find so­lu­tions.

“Qatar has been press­ing for an end to the spat and there are now in­di­ca­tions that it is pon­der­ing ways to im­plode the GCC, the only pan-Arab al­liance that has thrived de­spite all kinds of chal­lenges for more than 37 years,” Mo­ham­mad Jaber, a Gulf an­a­lyst, said.

How­ever, An­war Gar­gash, the UAE Min­is­ter of State for For­eign Af­fairs, was con­fi­dent that the GCC would keep mov­ing for­ward as an en­tity de­spite the Qatar cri­sis.

“The GCC sum­mit in Saudi Ara­bia and the up­com­ing Omani pres­i­dency in­di­cate that the GCC will con­tinue mov­ing for­ward de­spite the Qatar cri­sis,” Gar­gash tweeted on Thurs­day.

GCC af­fairs an­a­lyst Ha­mad Al Amer said: “There are no so­lu­tions in sight for the Qatar cri­sis, es­pe­cially after Doha took steps that con­firmed that it was out of tune with the other GCC states.”

There are no so­lu­tions in sight for the Qatar cri­sis, es­pe­cially after Doha took steps that con­firmed that it was out of tune with the other GCC states.”

Ha­mad Al Amer | GCC af­fairs an­a­lyst

AP

Kuwait’s Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ah­mad Al Sabah chair­ing the pre­vi­ous edi­tion of the GCC sum­mit in Kuwait in De­cem­ber 2017.

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