Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have ended an internal dispute with fellow member-state Qatar, agreeing to return their ambassadors to Doha after a seven-month absence.
In a joint GCC statement on Sunday evening, following an emergency meeting hosted by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, in the Saudi capital Riyadh, the leaders said they had now “turned over a new leaf” in relations and would work together to foster stronger bonds of unity between all members of the organization.
This was made more important by the difficult circumstances the region was currently experiencing, which required increased efforts to promote peace and stability within it, the statement added.
“Based on this, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have decided to return their ambassadors to Qatar,” the statement said.
The three countries withdrew their ambassadors from Doha in March, in what was an unusual development for Gulf countries, accusing the Qatari administration of interfering in the affairs of other GCC member states and thereby contravening the organization’s charter.
The dispute appeared to have worsened in the run-up to the GCC’s annual meeting, due to be held in Doha in December.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat last week, an anonymous source from the GCC’s General Secretariat had said the prospects for the meeting were looking “hazy,” and said a number of GCC members had expressed “reservations about holding the summit in Doha” due to the tensions with Qatar.
In a surprise development on Sunday, however, Saudi and Kuwaiti efforts to mediate the dispute seemed to bear fruit.
A senior Kuwaiti source—also speaking on condition of anonymity—told Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday that an emergency meeting would be taking place in Riyadh “during the week” to smooth over the rift, and added that most of the points of dispute between the countries had already been worked out.
Leaders from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait attended the meeting in Riyadh on Sunday evening.
They included the Ruler of Dubai and Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum; Gen. Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces; Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa; The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani; and the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jabir Al-Sabah.