The 39th Gulf Cooperation Council summit, which was held in Saudi Arabia this week, made headlines. I believe holding the summit under the difficult circumstances the GCC countries are going through is an indicator of the improvement of the future situation and the desire to maintain the cohesion of Gulf states. The summit, which was held in Riyadh, called for strengthening joint GCC work in order to overcome the challenges facing GCC countries.
I think the most prominent decisions of the meeting was the declaration to welcome the establishment of a joint military force and appoint a commander to lead the joint defense system, as well as the establishment of an academy for strategic studies. In a joint press conference with GCC Secretary General Abdullatif Al-Zayani, the Saudi foreign minister said: “We are waiting for Qatar to adopt the policies that are required for them to deal with.” That comment I think means the door is still open for Qatar regardless of the complication of the crisis.
HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah led Kuwait’s delegation to the Gulf summit. He said “the continuation of the Gulf dispute presents a serious threat to unity”. He called to stop malicious media campaigns, pointing out that this will “create the atmosphere to resolve the dispute between us”. Personally as a Kuwaiti citizen, I believe that this is right, because the dispute with Qatar needs to end soon.
On the Yemeni crisis, the Amir said that the conflict in Yemen “poses a direct threat to all of us”. He stressed that “our relations with Iran must be set on the principles adopted by the United Nations, of which the most important is non-interference in our affairs”.
The GCC issued a final statement which highlights key points of agreement, starting with a mutual commitment to economic integration among GCC states and the comprehensive application of the provisions of the economic agreement with a view to achieve economic unity in 2025, along with combating terrorist organizations through security integration and countering extremist ideologies.
In an impressive gesture, HH the Amir drew media attention during the official photo with the leaders of the delegations to the summit. As the leaders lined up to take the photo, the Amir went to the Qatari flag and held it to check whether it was visible in the picture.
The boycotting of Qatar since June 5, 2017 undoubtedly has had a clear impact on the image of Gulf cohesion, and the Kuwaiti mediation has not succeeded so far in bringing together the parties. But I think this summit may be a prelude to the return of the brothers to one table. Saudi King Salman concluded the summit and the leaders went back to their countries, leaving behind hope and a heavy agenda to work on.
By Muna Al-Fuzai