KHALEEJ TIMES, Thursday, Dec 6, 2018 | Rabi Al Awwal 28, 1440
Saudi summit invite puts Qatar in a fix
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will host
the 39th annual GCC Summit amid ambiguity
over who will be attending it on behalf of Qatar and what its strategy will be.
The Amir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin
Hamad Al Thani, has apparently received a written invitation from the Custodian
of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, to attend
the annual Gulf Summit, a Qatar News Agency report said on Tuesday.
Despite the differences between the
GCC states and Qatar, the summit continues to convene annually in December.
Analysts say the GCC's keenness to hold the summit under any circumstances shows
the political will of the member states to maintain unity.
Doha has been criticising the GCC
ever since Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt announced a boycott of Qatar
since June 2017 over its support to terror groups and interference in
neighbours' affairs. Qatar's Foreign Minister Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al Thani
was on record describing the GCC as an "ineffective tool". The GCC countries
regarded such statements by Qatar as an attempt to break the unity of the GCC in
favour of Iran and Turkey which do not want the countries of the region to come
under one umbrella.
Observers say Qatar faces a tricky
situation viz-a-viz attending the GCC Summit. If it attends the summit, it will
have to suffer the embarrassment of facing the Saudi king after its media's
clear anti-Saudi role in propaganda surrounding the murder of Saudi journalist
Jamal Khashoggi. In the event of not attending the summit, it will have to face
criticism of breaking the unity of the GCC.
The invitation to Qatar to attend the
GCC Summit raises several questions. Kuwait Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al
Jarallah tried to end the speculation by saying the exact modalities of the
summit have not been finalised yet. "Right now we are in the process of
distributing the invitations, and there is nothing specific regarding the
attendance. We hope the GCC Summit in Saudi Arabia sees a high level of
attendance," Al Jarallah added.
In December last year, the 38th GCC
Summit was held in a tense and complicated environment amid the boycott imposed
by the three Arab states. Notwithstanding this, the annual meeting took place
reflecting the resolve of the GCC states to maintain unity.