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Collateral damage resulting from the Gulf crisis

September 5, 2017 at 12:01 pm

The Gulf is no longer a single nation after the recent crisis between the states and their communities. This crisis has done away with the ties of brotherhood, history and blood, after transitioning from a political to a social crisis, going even deeper and wider in its targets and effects. Those who prompted the political crisis do not know that along with this they have provoked sensitivities and calculations that some believed were already consigned to history.

Anytime that anyone has tried to intervene and mediate in the crisis, the media mouthpieces have fuelled the fire to keep it going, until they reached the point of tampering with relations between the ruling families and their tribal and familial ties in order to spread division and fragmentation. This has put the current crisis down a path of no return.

Putting this aside, we should look at the repercussions of the crisis on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which is on the verge of becoming meaningless as a result of the crisis, since it is standing-by helplessly, unable to adopt any position suitable to its role. The GCC is considered the Gulf umbrella to resolve conflicts and differences, once either side in a crisis convinces it to serve in its favour. This is the opposite of its proper role, which is supposed to see it acting independently and impartially; that is what its founding charter makes clear.

The philosophy behind the establishment of the GCC stemmed not only from facing the foreign threats to its member states but also to ensure cooperation and integration between them and their people. They are, after all, linked by blood, history and marriage.

Read: Qatar accuses the boycotting countries of putting the Gulf Cooperation Council at risk

The GCC charter is one of the rare regional agreements that place the people’s interests at the core of its main objectives. Article IV of the charter, signed in late May 1981, stipulates that one of the GCC’s basic objectives is “to deepen and strengthen relations, links and areas of cooperation now prevailing between their peoples in various fields.”

Another basic objective is “to effect coordination, integration and inter-connection between Member States in all fields in order to achieve unity between them” in the hope of achieving some kind of integration and political and economic unity between the GCC States and their peoples. This is now a distant dream. When we hear or read news about the humanitarian cases where familial, social and tribal ties have been severed by the current crisis, we realise that the wound is deep and it will be difficult to heal.

Worst of all is the boycotting countries’ insistence, along with their media outlets, to go far in this regard. It is as if they are trying to poison relations between the Gulf nations. The media has crossed all red lines in covering the situation by addressing social issues that are very sensitive to Gulf citizens. Some of the local elites have engaged in this as well, after aligning with the positions of their governments, either by force or voluntarily.


When we read an article by a writer, artist or intellectual from one of the boycotting countries, who was not only a frequent visitor to Doha, but also always praised the country and its leadership, and find that they have suddenly turned and now engaged in the campaign of incitement and slander against Qatar, then the situation is out of control. I do not know what this writer, artist or intellectual’s position will be when the dust settles if it ever does.

The GCC will definitely not be the same as it was, as it is already suffering from many structural and political problems. The real tragedy is that the relations between the council’s members will not go back to the way that they were.

The current crisis has hammered a major nail in the coffin of the GCC in its role as a regional institution. I would not be too surprised if it meets the same fate as several other Arab and regional organisations; it will either be dead in the water, like the Arab League or even mourned, like the Arab Maghreb Union. Whatever happens, it will be part of the collateral damage arising from the Gulf crisis.

This article first appeared in Arabic in the New Khaleej on 4 September 2017

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.