'GULFing Buddies': UAE Announces New Alliance With Saudi Arabia

07 December, 2017, 03:27 | Author: Brenda Erickson

Relations within the Gulf have soured since the four Arab states accused Qatar of supporting terrorism.

The committee "will coordinate between the two countries in all military, political, economic, trade and cultural fields", according to a decree issued by UAE President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

"We know that in the past some countries outright refused to be a part of any summit that had Qatar in it but Kuwait's success lies in bringing people from all Gulf countries together on a table for the first time since the beginning of the siege".

The 38th summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) starts on Monday with preliminary meetings, and comes as the blockade on Doha imposed by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates reaches six months.

Casting further doubt on the group's future, the UAE said on Tuesday it was forming a new military and economic committee with Saudi Arabia separate from the GCC.

Qatar denies the accusations, and blasts the blockade as an attempt by the larger Gulf States to bully it into submission.

The GCC, which was established in 1981, is a political and economic alliance of countries in the Arabian Peninsula.

The three countries instead sent lower-ranking officials to the GCC meeting Tuesday in Kuwait City, while Kuwait, Oman and Qatar will still send senior officials.

The other GCC states have yet to announce who they would be sending, although some Kuwaiti media have reported Saudi King Salman may attend.

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"Most people in the GCC have been very vocal about their opinions of the Gulf crisis on social media but they were nearly unanimous in their praise for the efforts of the Kuwaiti leadership in recent months to resolve the crisis", Tahir explained.

He and Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber al-Sabah were the only heads of state to attend the meeting.

Qatar's foreign minister met his Gulf Arab counterparts on Monday ahead of the annual summit, one of the highest official encounters since some of them cut diplomatic, trade and travel links with Doha six months ago.

After cutting off all ties with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and its allies imposed a land, sea and air blockade of the emirate and issued a list of 13 demands to have it lifted.

Bahrain in October openly called for Qatar's membership of the GCC to be suspended until it accepted the demands.

It also indicated that U.S. and its European allies have told GCC members that region remains stronger with them working together as a whole, while "the countries themselves still appear divided" over their future.

Although, the Council has formally approved the creation of a common market, a single currency and a customs union, few of these measures are being implemented, as its members can not agree on how to institutionalize these radical reforms.

It remains unclear if other GCC member states will be invited to join the new block.

GCC chief Abdullatif al-Zayyani told the meeting that the region's difficulties coupled with security and political challenges required members to consolidate solidarity and unity.

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