While GCC policymakers have responded swiftly to the threat of COVID-19 domestically, some Gulf states deftly used the crisis to advance their foreign policy objectives with states with which they have had adversarial relationships. Only time will tell whether these new diplomatic opportunities will lay groundwork for concerted regional efforts.
Govt advanced ties with Qatar and returned its ambassador to Lebanon, while authorities summoned senior Shiite cleric.
Govt continued normalisation with Qatar and returned ambassador to Lebanon. In sign that normalisation proceeds after pair announced resumption of formal relations in April, Bahrain 15 May announced it was resuming flights to and from Qatar starting 25 May. Govt 20 May said it would restore diplomatic representation at ambassador level in Lebanon, after Gulf countries supported Saudi Arabia in withdrawing ambassadors in Oct 2021 following critical comments made by Lebanon’s then-information minister about Riyadh’s role in war in Yemen.
Authorities detained senior cleric. Police 22 May summoned for interrogation senior Shiite cleric Muhammad Sanqour, as interior ministry accused him of “repeated inflammatory speeches” and “publicly inciting hatred”; during Friday prayers, Sanqour reportedly raised concern about treatment of prisoners. Videos on social media same day showed dozens of protesters expressing solidarity with Sanqour in front of his house. Authorities 25 May released Sanqour.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Crisis Group President Rob Malley and Board Member Naz Modirzadeh, a Harvard professor of international law and armed conflict, dive deep into the conflicts that rage around the globe, along with Crisis Group field analysts and special guests. This week, they discuss U.S. support for the Yemen war and the absence of the Palestinian issue from the normalisation agreement among Israel, the UAE and Bahrain. Crisis Group's Senior Analyst for Ethiopia, Will Davison, also joins them to discuss the challenges facing Ethiopia.
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