RIYADH, KOMPAS.com – Gulf Arab leaders signed a declaration on Tuesday (5/1/2021) to make peace with Qatar after Saudi Arabia pull out embargo and blockade for 3.5 years from that energy-rich country because of its proximity to Iran and support for militant groups.
Launch Associated Press (AP), Saudi Arabia is also restoring relations diplomatic full of Qatar although it is unclear how quickly the move will be followed by the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt which has so far joined the Kingdom of Saudi in isolating the Gulf state.
Ahead KTT Gulf Arabs late Monday, Arab leaders in the ancient desert city of Al Ula, Saudi, announced that they would open an air and land blockade with Qatar.
A major first step towards ending the diplomatic crisis that began in 2017, when the Trump administration began to increase pressure on Iran.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told reporters after the summit that diplomatic ties would be fully restored with Qatar, although no time frame was given yet.
“We are very pleased to be able to achieve this very important breakthrough which we believe will make a huge contribution to the stability and security of all countries in the region,” said Prince Faisal.
“We are in a place where everyone is satisfied and happy … the return of diplomatic relations, flights and more, all of that will now return to normal. “
The Gulf Arab summit also comes as Saudi Arabia seeks to unify Arab states ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s upcoming administration, who is expected to take a firmer stance on the Saudi kingdom and return to touch with Iran.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif congratulated Qatar “on the outcome of its brave resistance to pressure and extortion.”
He also said in a message to other Arab leaders that “Iran is neither an enemy nor a threat, especially with reckless supporters who are about to step down,” the Iranian foreign minister said referring to Trump’s figure.
Dania Thafer, executive director of the Gulf International Forum, said Saudi Arabia is concerned about whether Biden will withdraw the US military presence in the Persian Gulf which has developed under President Trump and re-enter nuclear negotiations with Iran.
“If that’s the case, then (Arab) countries need to respond with regional security solutions. And I think solving the Gulf crisis is one step forward in that direction, “said Thafer.
The Saudi Crown Prince, who embraced Qatar’s emir Al Thani upon arrival at Al Ula, said the Gulf region needed to unite and face the challenges posed by Iran’s proxies and its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
He said the declaration signed by the leaders of the Gulf and Egypt “emphasizes Arab and Gulf solidarity and stability, and strengthens the continuity of friendship and brotherhood between our countries.”
The four countries that have jointly boycotted Qatar hope their embargo and media offensive will pressure it to end its close ties with Turkey and Iran.
Egypt and the UAE view Qatar and Turkey’s support for Islamic groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood as a security threat. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are particularly concerned about Qatar’s relationship with Iran.
The boycott failed to change Doha’s stance, even pushing Qatar closer to Turkey and Iran, as it helped the immensely wealthy Gulf nation face shortages of medical supplies and food in the first days of the embargo.
While the Saudi decision to end the embargo marks an important milestone for resolving the dispute, the path to full reconciliation is far from guaranteed.
Apart from Saudi, the rift between Abu Dhabi and Doha is deepest, with the UAE and Qatar having sharp ideological strife.
The UAE Foreign Minister, Anwar Gargash, tweeted late Monday that his country wanted to restore Gulf unity but warned that “We have a lot of work to do.”
Meanwhile, the conflict in Libya remains a contentious issue, with Egypt and the UAE backing military commander Khalifa Hifter, who launched a 2019 offensive against the Tripoli-based bloc backed by Turkey and Qatar.
Thafer said the issues that sparked the dispute have not been resolved.
“The core tension is still there, and that leaves a big question mark about how they will move forward,” he said.
The summit and the declaration signed at Al-Ula in support of Gulf unity “is a trust-building mechanism for more than just full reconciliation.”
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani from Qatar is attending for the first time at the annual Gulf Arab Summit after Saudi Arabia lifted the boycott. Usually, Sheikh Al Thani only sends envoys in the last 2 years of the summit.
Several pictures appeared on social media, showing the closeness between the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman with Sheikh Al Thani after the summit.
Prince bin Salman seemed to take Sheikh Al Thani on a tour of the historical site of Al Ula before the Emir of Qatar, who was his guest, returned to his home country.
Egypt’s foreign minister also attended a meeting of 6 Gulf Cooperation Council countries comprising Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Brahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar. The event was led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and not his father, King Salman Al Saud.