Bahrain and the Emirates call for an end to the Gulf dispute before the regional summit

Gulf countries ready to resolve the crisis with Qatar 

PHOTO/AGENCIA DE PRENSA SAUDI via REUTERS   - Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) foreign ministers arrive, ahead of the annual leaders' summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on 9 December 2019

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will hold its annual summit on 5 January, almost a month later than planned, amidst the talks held by several of its members which have been at loggerheads since 2017 in a diplomatic conflict that could come to an end at that meeting.  

Bahrain called on Wednesday for an end to regional disputes; the latest statement suggests that the gap between Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt could be eased before the Gulf summit next month.   

The Manama Supreme Defence Council declared the need to "end regional conflicts" peacefully in the midst of the thaw in relations.  

The Manama Supreme Defence Council, headed by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, met on Wednesday and declared the need to "end regional conflicts and disputes by peaceful means," according to the official Bahrain News Agency (BNA).  

Kuwait's foreign minister, Ahmed Naser al-Sabah, announced several weeks ago the intention of the GCC countries to hold their summit in the "brotherly Saudi kingdom" on 5 January 2021, according to a statement by this department.  

Precisely, Kuwait announced at the beginning of this month that "fruitful talks" had begun to settle the conflict between Qatar and the so-called Arab quartet, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt, which cut off relations with Doha and has been blocking it since June 2017.   

The European Union (EC) was pleased this Saturday that the countries involved in the Gulf crisis, which has pitted Qatar against Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain for the past three years, have begun to negotiate a way out of the conflict.  

"The settlement of the internal dispute will enable the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to restore its unity and resume its important work. The EU remains ready to further strengthen its longstanding partnership with a revitalised GCC", the spokesman for the European External Action Service said in a statement

The EU praised the announcement made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait, Sabah Ahmed al-Sabah, that the efforts to resolve the crisis between the countries forming part of this Council have been "fruitful" and welcomed the mediating role played by this country.   

 REUTERS/AHMED YOSRI - The flags of the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are flying in the streets before the 40th GCC summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on 9 December 2019.

The softened rhetoric surrounding the three-year dispute comes amid the efforts led by Riyadh to resolve the crisis.  

The Saudi foreign minister, Faisal bin Farhan, told AFP last week that the kingdom and its allies in Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates were "on board" to resolve the crisis, with an agreement expected soon.  

Since then, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have given their public support to the negotiations.  

The United Arab Emirates' minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, confirmed that his country expects a successful summit in Riyadh, with which to begin the phase of strengthening dialogue in the Gulf.   

As the Emirati minister wrote in his official Twitter account: "The management of the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for this task is a question of confidence and optimism, and from Riyadh, the capital of the Gulf decision, we are launching the measures, God willing, to strengthen future dialogue in the Gulf".  

The Qatari foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, said on Wednesday that there were no political obstacles to resolving the Gulf crisis.   

"We will all emerge victorious from the crisis if we rebuild confidence in the GCC as a regional institution," he said, adding that the talks to resolve the crisis were with Saudi Arabia, which represents the blocking quartet. 

The Doha-based diplomats quoted a senior Qatari official as saying that the final agreement was "agreed in principle" but "limited in scope".  

Another Gulf source close to the negotiations told AFP that the Saudi process could lead to some kind of peace, but would not completely solve the underlying problems.  

The final agreement is likely to be a joint document setting out the terms, they said, perhaps a reworked version of the 2014 Riyadh agreement between Qatar and the Gulf States, a secret pact that is supposed to promote non-interference in each other's affairs.  

But the real indicator will be Qatar's level of representation at a forthcoming Gulf Cooperation Council summit scheduled for before the end of the year. The presence of the emir of Qatar would be evidence of a rapprochement that is already under way.  

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