Simply after the signing of the reconciliation settlement by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, a gathering of the Gulf Cooperation Council was held together with – for the primary time in three years — representatives of Doha. The Saudi Crown Prince opened the assembly by reminding everybody that Iran was the chief risk to the members of the GCC. There was no objection from Qatar. The report on MBS’s opening remarks on the GCC are right here: “Eyeing Gulf Detente, Saudi Arabia Opens Summit With Name to Counter Iran Risk,” Algemeiner, January 5, 2021:
Saudi Arabia‘s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman opened a Gulf Arab summit on Tuesday by taking purpose at Iran and lauding a deal in direction of ending a long-running dispute with Qatar.
Prince Mohammed embraced Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, on the airport tarmac within the historic Saudi metropolis of al-Ula, an vital sign of hopes to bury a battle between main US allies within the Center East two weeks earlier than President-elect Joe Biden takes workplace.
Leaders of the Gulf nations signed a doc, though the contents weren’t instantly launched….
Presumably this doc, signed by all six GCC members, widened the circle of states agreeing to be “reconciled” with Qatar, after the preliminary Saudi-Qatar reconciliation settlement, to incorporate the all 4 of the remaining GCC members — UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait.
“These efforts … led to the al-Ula settlement which shall be signed at this blessed summit and which confirms Gulf, Arab and Islamic unity and stability,” Prince Mohammed, the dominion’s de facto ruler, mentioned with out elaborating on the deal.
He mentioned the risk posed by Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and its “subversive and harmful plans” necessitated “severe motion” by the worldwide group.
That final remark by the Saudi Crown Prince was meant to remind not solely fellow GCC members, and different Arab states, however above all, the incoming Biden administration, that it mustn’t merely return to the nuclear deal of 2015 , with none modifications. The Crown Prince desires the People to change the unique settlement, in order that it’s “lengthened and strengthened” by inserting limits on Iran’s ballistic missile program and by acquiring Iran’s dedication to finish its regional aggression, by its community of proxies and allies — from Yemen (the Houthis) by Iraq (Kataib Hezbollah) and Syria (the Alawite-led military of Bashar Assad), to Lebanon (Hezbollah) — all enrolled within the effort to assist Iran create a “Shi’a crescent” from the Gulf to the Mediterranean.
His father, King Salman, who chaired the final annual gathering, was not seen in the course of the opening session of the summit held in a mirrored constructing reflecting the desert panorama.
The obvious breakthrough within the Gulf row is the newest in a collection of Center East offers sought by Washington to shut ranks towards Iran, following agreements between Israel and Arab states. It additionally suggests Saudi Arabia desires to place the feud with Qatar behind it earlier than Biden takes workplace.
Understanding that Biden takes a dim view of Saudi Arabia, for its human rights violations at dwelling, its bombing campaigns which have claimed the lives of Yemeni civilians, and its killing of the journalist Jama Khashoggi, the Crown Prince fairly sensibly wished to current Biden with a show of a kinder, gentler Saudi Arabia, as signified by its willingness to carry the blockade on Qatar and welcome Doha again into the GCC fold. He’s calculating that this “reconciliation” might soften Biden’s hostility towards the Kingdom; because it not solely offers a blow to Iran by weakening its ties with Qatar, nevertheless it additionally means that there’s one much less overseas coverage drawback on the brand new president’s plate.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic, commerce and journey ties with Qatar over allegations Doha helps terrorism, a cost it denies.
Qatar’s denial is absurd. First, it has been a monetary backer of Hamas in Gaza, and it permits Hamas to function freely in its personal territory, whereas many different Arab states, together with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain, all ban Hamas as a “terror group.” Second, Qatar supplies assist for terrorist teams by defending and selling them within the many media platforms which Al Jazeera – wholly owned by the Qatari authorities – possesses. Third, Al Jazeera additionally defends Iran’s direct assist, with weapons and cash, for terror teams, particularly Hezbollah in Lebanon, and each Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza.
Whereas Riyadh made clear it meant to carry the embargo, the opposite three states didn’t instantly touch upon the problem. However the US official mentioned “it’s our expectation” they’d additionally be a part of and that Doha will droop lawsuits associated to the boycott….
Now that Qatar has simply been welcomed again to a gathering of the GCC, this certainly signifies that its members have signaled their very own willingness to comply with the Saudi lead, carry their very own a lot much less in depth blockades, and reconcile with Qatar.
However with Qatar having reconciled with the GCC, which certainly required it to pivot in its coverage away from the Islamic Republic, Iran misplaced its one semi-friend and quasi-ally within the Gulf. Regardless of the creator’s declare that this détente won’t have repercussions past the Gulf, that appears unlikely. Iran’s isolation may have elevated, and opponents of Iran’s ally Hezbollah shall be heartened, maybe sufficiently in order to mount a problem to the fear group in Lebanon. And any weakening of Hezbollah’s maintain on Lebanon or standing within the area will enhance Israel’s place.
All of the states are US allies. Qatar hosts the area’s largest US army base, Bahrain is dwelling to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, and Saudi Arabia and the UAE host US troops.
These nations are American “allies” within the sense that all of them allow America to have or share bases of their territory, however there are variations amongst them. The staunchly pro-American and now pro-Israel Emirates is a a lot nearer American “ally” than Qatar, dwelling to the anti-American, anti-Israel government-financed Al Jazeera community, a monetary backer of the fear group Hamas (presumably that may now cease) and a good friend certainly, till simply the day earlier than yesterday, to America’s mortal enemy, the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Qatar says the boycott goals [aimed] to curb its sovereignty.
The boycott of Qatar was an try and strain the Doha authorities to train its sovereign proper to decide on its mates and enemies in methods its neighbors discovered much less threatening. It’s not a curb on its sovereignty, however an try and have it pivot in its overseas coverage. When the American authorities tries to steer Mexico to bar Central American immigrants from touring by the nation to the U.S., when the U.Okay. makes an attempt to steer the French to stop Muslim migrants from crossing the channel, when Israel tries to steer the U.S. to not rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal with out modifications, these makes an attempt to affect one other nation’s insurance policies aren’t seen as curbs on its sovereignty, however as makes an attempt to affect coverage. It’s what ambassadors, and overseas secretaries, do on a regular basis; Qatar’s grievance that the boycott – that’s, the blockade – “curbs its sovereignty” is misplaced.
The opposite nations had set Doha 13 calls for, together with closing Al Jazeera TV, shuttering a Turkish base, reducing hyperlinks to the Muslim Brotherhood and downgrading ties with Iran.
I assume it was not simply the “different nations” within the GCC– the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait , Oman –but additionally Saudi Arabia, that offered Qatar collectively with their calls for. It’s an excellent checklist. Pleasure of place should be given to “downgrading ties with Iran,” for Iran represents a serious risk to the Gulf Sunni states. Its assist for the Houthi rebels in Yemen fills the Saudis with dread, and never solely due to Houthi assaults on Saudi oil installations. Far worse might be anticipated ought to the Houthis show profitable and take over Yemen. Iran would then be capable to use Yemen as an unlimited base working alongside Saudi Arabia’s southern border, the place It could be a serious army risk to the Kingdom. Iran may also try and foment, from Yemen – with propaganda, cash, and weapons — an riot towards their Wahhabi masters by the three million Shi’a who dwell within the oil-bearing Japanese Province of Saudi Arabia..
Second on the To-Do Listing for Qatar ought to be reducing its longstanding assist for the Muslim Brotherhood, a company that the Saudis, the Emiratis, the Bahrainis, and the Egyptians all regard with dread. Such a choice entails some threat: the MB is deeply entrenched in Qatar, the place the its mental chief, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, lives, and from the place he broadcasts to 60 million listeners world-wide. Thus far Qatar, with its waddling Emir, has been spared by the MB. However ought to Qatar turn into much less pleasant, below GCC strain, to the Brotherhood, certainly the MB would in flip turn into extra hostile to the Al-Thani dynasty that guidelines Qatar. The Qataris might have privately instructed the GCC that for causes of self-preservation they should disentangle themselves from the Brotherhood very slowly and thoroughly, and will wish to wait till after the demise of Yusuf al-Qaradawi – he’s 94 — to make the entire break with the Brotherhood requested by the members of the GCC..
Shuttering a Turkish base ought to be the best of the calls for made on Qatar. Turkey and Qatar bonded over their shared assist for the Muslim Brotherhood, but when the MB is now going to be seen steadily much less favorably in Doha, its steadfast supporter Turkey may endure the identical destiny. The opposite Arabs have been disturbed by the neo-Ottoman schemes and desires of President Erdogan, together with his presumption that Turkey ought to be, as by proper, the pure chief of the Muslim world, and Turks ought to command the pan-Islamic military that Erdogan advised be created to destroy Israel. They harbor historic reminiscences of mistreatment by their Ottoman masters. And it’s not solely these Ottoman “schemes and desires” that so alarm them, however the Turkish bases that Erdogan has established in western Libya, in Idlib Province in Syria, in northern Syria, in Somalia (the biggest Turkish base exterior Turkey), and in Qatar itself.. Qatar should not have any hassle shutting down, on the GCC’s request, the Turkish base on its territory; Qatar shares the Al Udeid airbase with the People, who can shield the Qataris much better than the Turks, ought to safety (from whom?) be wanted. The Turkish base in Qatar was merely another instance of Erdogan’s constructing of Turkish outposts all through the area; it didn’t reply any felt want from the Qataris themselves.
As for shutting Al Jazeera, that’s a tall order, and doubtless not the cleverest technique to curb that Qatari-owned media community’s malign affect, as a promoter of pro-Iranian and pro-MB views and, on the identical time, a spreader of anti-GCC, anti-Israel, and anti-American messages. Al-Jazeera is now well-established, primarily within the Muslim world but additionally within the U.S. and the U.Okay. It employs three thousand folks. If Al Jazeera have been to be shut down, lots of these journalists would find yourself at different Center Japanese media networks, bringing with them their anti-Western, anti-American, anti-Israeli attitudes, and added to these their new resentment directed at Qatar itself, for shutting down the station. A wiser path can be to maintain the station open, maybe dismissing a number of dozen members of the employees who have been most excessive of their animosity to the West, America, the GCC, and Israel. This may be a means of semaphoring to the remainder of the employees that new targets are being substituted for outdated, and that it’s now open season on Iran for establishing its “Shia crescent” and Turkey for Erdogan’s “neo-Ottoman” ambitions, whereas protection of the GCC nations, the Abrahamic Accords, Israel, and the U.S. ought to concomitantly turn into much less hostile. These employees members who hew most carefully to the brand new line ought to be promoted.
We’ll finally discover out what, among the many calls for reportedly made on Qatar by the Saudis, the Emirates, and the remainder of the GCC, are being met, or modified, or rejected, by Doha. I can already hear—can’t you? — the overseas coverage warriors drumming their messages by the jungles of Foggy Backside, Whitehall, the Quai d’Orsay, the BBC and NPR, the State of affairs Room with Wolf Blitzer, the GPS with Fareed Zakaria, and the columns of portentous print by these grand panjandrums and pundits of the New York Occasions, Nicholas Kristof and Tom Friedman, so usually improper, so seldom proper, so at all times confident.
As for me, I’m going to stay with what I surmised simply above.