Kuwait hosted some meetings a few days ago between official delegations from Qatar, the UAE and Egypt. The Qatari delegation met with UAE officials on 22 February with the aim of bridging the diplomatic gap between the two countries. The Qatar team met with an Egyptian delegation the following day. Similar meetings were held between Qatari and Saudi officials in Doha, to resume talks on the border crossings between the neighbours, which began on 14 February.
Kuwait has been an effective mediator in the efforts to bring Doha, Abu Dhabi and Cairo together; its work has been almost non-stop, dealing with very complex and tense relationships. Even in the darkest and most sensitive circumstances that followed the death last September of Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, may God rest his soul, Kuwait managed to achieve a major breakthrough that was evident in the Gulf Al-Ula summit in Saudi Arabia last month.
In fact, Kuwaiti mediation has stood out ever since the crisis erupted between Qatar and the "Arab Quartet" of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt in 2017. It has almost certain that such mediation will not be limited to the Arab countries and with the Gulf crisis, but will also extend to include Turkey and the quartet. The Kuwaitis hosted Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier this month, when he indicated Ankara's desire to open up to the Gulf States and Egypt coincidental with the dismissal of the UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash, and his replacement by Sheikh Shakhbout Bin Nahyan. This suggest that dialogue and reconciliation could spread towards Ankara and even Tehran in the future; the now former UAE official made some problematic statements during the blockade crisis.
Indeed, activating Kuwaiti mediation will also mean activating the proposed Qatari mediation between the Gulf States and Iran. Qatar's Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman, said in January that his country wants to open a dialogue between Tehran and a number of Arab Gulf States, leading to talks and meetings. The Tehran Times cited an interview with Bloomberg News on 18 January, in which Bin Abdulrahman said that, "The time should come when the Persian Gulf's Arab states will sit at the table with Iran and reach a common understanding… We have to live with each other. We cannot change geography. Iran cannot move the GCC away from its neighbourhood and the GCC cannot move Iran from the neighbourhood."
The Qatari call for dialogue with Iran is strengthened by relations described as positive between the two countries, especially after Tehran opened its airspace and ports to Doha during the blockade. This makes Doha one of the potential mediators for dialogue between Tehran and the Gulf States, especially Saudi Arabia.
Abu Dhabi is not far from these developments at a time when it has been confirmed that Washington seeks to return to the nuclear agreement with Tehran, and to open dialogue through European and Arab mediators. We are seeing clear developments after the defeat of former US President Donald Trump, with an atmosphere of reconciliation and dialogue prevailing.
There is a clear reflection of this atmosphere on the Palestinian and Libyan issues, and it is possible that we will also witness the same in Iraq, Yemen and Syria. The return of Qatar as a political actor in the Arab arena is most welcome, the effects of which will not only have an impact on the Gulf States, but also on Jordan and its role. The Hashemite Kingdom has become active and aspires to play an effective role in formulating the agenda of the next Arab summit.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Assabeel on 23 February 2021
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.