Saudi Arabia and Qatar have reopened their aerial, land, and sea orders ending the three-year-long diplomatic crisis. Qatari Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani has attended the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) summit in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, January 5. In the 41st session of the GCC council at Al-Ula, the leaders of the Arab countries signed the solidarity and the stability agreement.
In June 2017, KSA severed its diplomatic ties with Qatar after accusing it of supporting terrorism, associating with Iran, and destabilizing the region of the Middle East. Following KSA, other GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) including U.A.E, Bahrain, and Egypt also suspended trade and flights with Qatar.
Ever since Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani took power in 1995, Qatar started to take the individualistic approach its relationship with Saudi Arabia started deteriorating, leading to the infamous Gulf crises which have only gotten intense over the years.
How Saudi Arabia And Qatar Agreed To Make Peace?
Kuwait and the United States of America have been trying to resolve the dispute that pitted US allies against each other. The Trump administration eagerly wanted its Arab allies to unite and isolate Iran and choke it economically.
President Donald Trump is seeking to claim as much success in resolving disputes before the end of his mandate. His son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner had a good relationship with the leaders of both countries. He played a key role in brokering a negotiation between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Kushner has been brokering historic peace deals in the Middle East for the past few months including the UAE and Israel ones. According to Gulf experts, this development suggested there was a personal favor involved from Kushner to the Saudi crown prince in separating as many Muslim countries from Iran.
US Involvement In Ending GCC Crises
Kuwait’s Emir, Sheikh Nawaf was also making the same efforts but made a little difference. The decision by close US allies to re-establish ties with Qatar came in the final days of Trump’s administration. Many Gulf observers have suggested that the Trump administration was trying to claim a different type of credit in front of the masses.
Qatar also has the largest US military base in the Middle East. Its dispute with multiple Arab nations weakens the alliance US needs to confront Iran. It was frustration for the US when its Arab allies cut ties with Qatar. The wealthy Gulf nation got close to Iran while using its airspace during embargo which ultimately assisted Iran’s economy as well. Qatar is the biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas in the world. It used its vast financial resources as a cushion to minimize the impact to its economy during Gulf crisis.
How Can It Resolve The Long-Standing Dispute?
It is not clear whether the peace process between Saudi Arabia and Qatar would be seamless. Arab states other than KSA may have appreciated the efforts but it is another thing to actually follow suit. According to many analysts, UAE is the most reluctant GCC member to accept Qatar as friend. The Emirates is particularly worried about Qatar’s relationship with Turkey, which it accuses of promoting neocolonialism. While being separated, UAE and KSA requested Qatar to hold back from Iran and Turkey.
The kingdom views both of these countries as its sworn enemies. It has also been wanting Qatar to end its satellite media channel, Al Jazeera which allegedly promotes the democratization of Muslim countries. Qatar has not reported whether these requests will be completed or not. Moreover, it has repeatedly denied all allegations from the US, KSA, and other GCC countries.
Some analysts have said that Qatar’s strong relationship with both opposing forces, Iran and the US can make it a potential mediator when U.S. President-elect Joe Biden takes the throne. Unlike Trump, Biden may revise and rejoin the Iran nuclear deal, according to media reports. However, analysts have still warned that due to the level of resentment in this conflict, a proper solution to the Gulf crisis would take some time.