The GCC summit opened on Tuesday in Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia, with the participation of the Emir of the state of Qatar. Riyadh and Doha announced the reopening of airspace and land and maritime borders between them, after three years of boycott. The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced at the beginning of the summit that the participating countries signed a statement to establish stability and solidarity between the countries.
They named the summit “Qaboos and Sheikh Sabah summit”, in honor of the Sultan of Oman and the Emir of Kuwait who passed away last year.
The summit participants signed a final statement, in the presence of US President Donald Trump’s adviser Jared Kushner, on Arab reconciliation. Formally ending the crisis with Qatar and reuniting the unity of Arab and Gulf Cooperation.
Why were the relation between Qatar and its neighbors as distributed?
Tensions between Qatar and its neighbors Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, as well as Egypt, have reached unprecedented levels to the point of severing diplomatic relations with them.
In a move aimed at putting pressure on Doha, neighboring Gulf states have closed their borders, and Egypt has closed its airspace and ports to all Qatari Transport.
The internationally recognized Yemeni government and the government in eastern Libya have also taken the other countries’ lead.
The main reasons behind the diplomatic crisis
Qatar and its Gulf Cooperation Council neighbors supported various parties during the political changes that followed the so-called “Arab Spring”. Doha was seen as a supporter of some Islamic parties, which managed to make political gains in some states.
The Muslim Brotherhood
Qatar provided protection to many members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Especially after the removal of former President Mohamed Morsi, one of the leaders of the group. The Egyptian government classified him as a “terrorist” by the UAE and Saudi Arabia, till his death because of the non-caring he suffered in the Egyptian prisons.
The official Saudi news agency published a statement accusing Qatar of: “embracing various terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at destabilizing the region including the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS and Al-Qaeda”.
However, the Qatari Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, and Manama’s actions were “unjustified and based on baseless allegations”. The statement also said that Qatar is “committed” to the GCC charter and fulfills its duties in the fight against terrorism and extremism.”
Relation with Iran
The current crisis triggered because Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani criticized US “hostility” towards Iran. Qatar said hackers were behind the publication of these statements on the state’s official news agency.
The Saudi statement accused Doha of supporting the activities of Iranian-backed terrorist groups in the Qatif governorate, a predominantly Shiite area in eastern Saudi Arabia. In addition to supporting Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Doha participated in the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and ensured that “it respects the sovereignty of other states and does not interfere in their internal affairs”.
Conflict in Libya and its relation to Qatar
Libya has been in chaos since the overthrow and the crime against the former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Khalifa Haftar, Libya’s military commander who is supported by Egypt and the UAE accused Qatar of supporting “terrorist groups.”
While Haftar allies with the government based in the eastern city of Tobruk, Qatar supports a rival government based in Tripoli.
Social media war
As soon as the Emir of Qatar’s statements were published on May 23, media outlets in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt were quick to point stinging criticism at Qatar.
The Qataris tried to respond with extensive coverage of leaks allegedly obtained by hackers from the email of the UAE Ambassador to the United States. But the actions of its neighbors were the fastest.
In its statement on Monday, Saudi Arabia referred to Qatar’s use of the media and accused it of “using it to cause conflicts”, especially as the Qatari media provided a platform for members of the Muslim Brotherhood.