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Saudi Arabia and the UAE accept the status quo and Qatar provides a face saving concession

May 10, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) concluded on Thursday a meeting in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, in which they conducted a thorough revision of the measures exercised with regard to endorsing the foreign and security policies of the GCC countries amid reports that the ambassadors crisis with Qatar has come to an end.

According to an official GCC communique, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain reached an agreement on Thursday evening that made it possible for the crisis with Qatar to come to an end.

It was also agreed to adopt the necessary mechanisms that would guarantee working within a collective framework so that the policies of individual GCC states would avoid having a negative impact on the interests, security and stability of the other member states or undermine the sovereignty of any of these states, according to the communique.

Within this context, high ranking UAE sources have denied in a statement made to Al-Jomhoor website that Qatar had pledged during the meeting that it would tone down the content of Aljazeera Channel’s coverage of events inside Egypt. They also denied that Qatar was inclined toward deporting a number of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders who currently reside in its territories.

The sources noted: “There is a problem pertaining to hosting within one GCC state of elements of the opposition to any of the other GCC states.” This remark refers to Qatar’s hosting of a number of Saudi and UAE citizens who are affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood.

They added: “A request was made to the effect of stripping Muhammad Al-Ahmari of his Qatari nationality but Qatar has turned this request down.” Al-Ahmari is a Saudi opposition writer and thinker and is one of the most prominent advocates of reform in the Arab world. He obtained Qatari nationality several years ago.

The sources confirmed that Qatar had made one concession to Saudi Arabia and the UAE as a face saving measure, namely: refraining from providing a safe haven to opposition members from the GCC countries. Yet, Qatar has never really provided a safe haven to GCC opposition elements who prefer to go to Britain, Europe and Turkey. Shi’ite opposition elements usually prefer to go to Lebanon and Iran.

The sources stressed that “the meeting did not address the stance of Aljazeera Channel vis-a-vis Egypt and that the Egyptian file remained entirely outside the scope of discussion and was set aside.

UAE sources informed Aljomhoor website earlier that Saudi Arabia informed the government of Abu Dhabi officially that efforts were being exerted in order to turn a new page (in the relations) between the Kingdom and Qatar. This news dismayed the rulers of the United Arab Emirates and especially Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed who is considered the de facto ruler of the country and the bitter enemy of Doha because of its support for the uprisings of the Arab Spring.

The sources added that direct talks took place, and are taking place, among senior Saudi and Qatari officials to discuss the remaining disagreements in order to repair the rupture in relations between the two sides.

The sources quoted Saudi sources as saying that they fear Qatar’s opening up to Turkey and Iran in case it is subjected to GCC sanctions.

It has been learned that the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince expressed his displeasure at the way in which Saudi – Qatari talks were proceeding. He is said to believe that the outcome is only likely to embolden Doha’s insistence and adherence to its political stances.

On the other side, the Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Muhammad bin Rashid Al Maktoom, who is also the UAE Prime Minister, seemed happy that the crisis with Qatar was nearing an end.

In fact, Muhammad bin Rashid Al-Maktoom went further when he tweeted on Wednesday that his relationship with Qatar was still in tact and that it was never severed after the ambassadors were withdrawn. This was in reference to the decision by the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to withdraw their ambassadors from Doha last February under the pretext that Qatar “was pursuing options that undermined the security of the GCC countries”, an accusations which Doha had categorically rejected.

On Wednesday, Muhammad bin Rashid Al Maktoom published in the Qatari newspaper Al-Rayah a poem constructed in Gulf beduin dialect a day after attending a lunch banquet held in Dubai by a Qatari citizen.

It would seem that Al Maktoom tried, through the poem and accepting the lunch invitation, to affirm his rejection of the severing of ties with Qatar.

His poem, entitled ‘The Pledges’ highlighted a number of concepts in this regard foremost among them is “the unity of the Gulf (peoples) irrespective of how divergent their visions or how different their ideas may be, for they are ‘the abode of glory, love, pride and unity throughout history’.

The poem explained that “the advancement of the Ummah can only be achieved once trivial matters are surpassed in other to accomplish what is greater and more important”.

It said in part: “Whisperers and backbiters pollute the clean air; dividing the ranks can only benefit the enemies”.

The website of the newspaper “The New Arab” noted on Thursday that Al-Rayah Newspaper received the poem from an official Qatari source publishing it on its last page and announcing on its first page that it had exclusive rights to publish the poem within Qatar.

UAE officials had earlier stressed to Al-Jomhoor website that the covert disagreement between Abu Dhabi and Dubai over the current crisis in Egypt and over other crises in the region resembles a very profound crisis between the two emirates that is likely to escalate to unprecedented levels in the coming days.

These officials affirmed that a secret meeting took place recently in Abu Dhabi bringing together the leaders of the Gulf emirates. The meeting was attended by the ruler of Dubai Muhammad bin Rashid Al Maktoom who voiced unprecedented sharp criticisms against the de facto ruler of the UAE Muhammad bin Zayed, who was also present in the meeting.

The sources quoted Al Maktoom as telling Muhammad bin Zayed: “I am afraid that we may regret our stances and foreign policy toward the crises in Egypt, in Tunisia and in every Arab country in which we are active.” He added: “We are active in Egypt and we are pumping billions (into it) with no tangible result. Our policies in Egypt, in Tunisia and in Libya are flawed and stupid.” He went on to say: “I am afraid that we may regret it when it is already too late and when regret is of no use. I fear that we may harvest the repercussions of our evil deeds.”

Source: Al-Jomhoor, 18 April 2014