This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood and Naz Modirzadeh talk to Dina Esfandiary, Crisis Group’s Senior Middle East Adviser, about whether the announcement of an end to the Gulf Cooperation Council dispute means the crisis is really over.
Originally published in POMEPS Studies
Country signed reconciliation deal to end three-and-a-half-year intra-Gulf dispute. Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emiratesand Bahrain agreed to reopen their land, air and sea borders with Qatar after all four states and Egypt 5 Jan signed al-Ula Declaration at Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh; agreement ends three-and-a-half-year blockade of Doha by three neighbouring states and Egypt who cut ties with Qatar in July 2017.
The quarrel between Gulf monarchies has spilled into Somalia, with the fragile state now caught between the rival interests of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The competition has already aggravated intra-Somali disputes. All sides should take a step back before these tensions mount further.
The US and other Western countries welcome Qatari mediation because of their [own] limited interactions with the Taliban [in Afghanistan].
The questions for Saudi Arabia and the Emirates are: Was this the best way to signal their discontent? Was the decision to isolate Qatar the right one? And, perhaps most importantly ― what is the way out?
While a compromise [between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and its allies] is possible, there currently is a stalemate because both sides are hearing the voices they want to hear [from the U.S.]
By virtue of their relative size (both geographic and financial), Qatar will always be weaker [than Saudi Arabia]. But not weak enough to make finances and business deals the decisive factor in this contretemps.
The rift between Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates shows no sign of abating, at a time when the Middle East is increasingly polarised. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2017 – Second Update early warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to play an active role in de-escalating a crisis that could exacerbate persistent regional conflicts.
Crisis Group’s second update to our Watch List 2017 includes entries on Nigeria, Qatar, Thailand and Venezuela. These early-warning publications identify conflict situations in which prompt action by the European Union and its member states would generate stronger prospects for peace.