London, Asharq Al-Awsat—A senior Omani official has said that the inter-Gulf dispute between Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain is close to being solved.
In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat following a speech to the Anglo-Omani society in London on Thursday, director-general of Oman’s foreign ministry Badr Bin Hamad Albusaidi, said: ““That dispute, I believe, is almost behind us. I think there is a new interesting dynamic in the working relationship between all of us in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), in particular between Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.”
Relations between Qatar and its neighbors hit a low point in March, when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE withdrew their ambassadors from Doha, alleging that Qatar was meddling in the domestic affairs of its fellow GCC members.
Commenting on Qatari mediation between Washington and Tehran over Iran’s nuclear dossier, the senior Omani official told Asharq Al-Awsat: “We are hopeful, and very much back this process, so that we can remove a very important and potentially dangerous issue from the [Gulf] arena.”
“I wish them all the best, and hope that those negotiations will succeed in reaching our common objectives for the region and the world,” he added.
In his earlier speech before the Anglo-Omani society, director-general of Oman’s foreign ministry, Badr Bin Hamad Albusaidi said: “International geopolitics is as much about timing as anything else, and the timing is ripe now for a solution.”
Iranian negotiators and representatives of the P5+1 (the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) are currently meeting in the Austrian capital of Vienna in an attempt to reach an accord to defuse the long-running crisis over Iran’s nuclear program, which has seen the country hit with US, UN and EU sanctions.
In his speech, Albusaidi also called for regional actors to do more to promote dialogue to resolve the Middle East’s regional crises, and for international actors to allow regional leaders to take the lead in settling disputes across the Middle East.
In particular, he called for both sides in the Syrian conflict to “demonstrate their commitment” to the future of Syria’s youth “by returning to the negotiating table.”
“In a nutshell, our advice [is]: ‘stick with the Geneva process,’ ” he said.
The Syrian government and opposition met at a UN-sponsored conference in Geneva at the beginning of this year, but were unable to come to any agreement over the shape of a political accord to end the country’s three-year civil war, which has claimed an estimated 200,000 lives and displaced millions.
Although both the so-called moderate Syrian opposition and the government, led by President Bashar Al-Assad, now share a common enemy in the form of Al-Qaeda offshoots Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), fighting continues to rage between government forces and opposition fighters.
The conflict has become increasingly internationalized thanks to Russian and Iranian support for the Syrian government and US-led airstrikes against ISIS militants.
During his address, Albusaidi called for a greater emphasis on dialogue in resolving regional disputes, and for international actors to pay more heed to local concerns.
“Peace cannot be imposed,” he said. “Whether it is in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, or Yemen, local people and local leaders have to make their choices. The issues and situations are unique to these areas, and only they will be able to understand the intricacies of the disagreements . . . and where they can agree.”
As for ISIS itself, the director-general called on societies and governments across the region to reject extremism as part of a long-term solution, saying that there was no “silver bullet or quick victory.”
He said: “This is a battle in which Imams, teachers, employers, and mothers and fathers have to be foot soldiers on the front line. It is a battle in which every reasonable individual on social media can play a part.”
“This is a challenge to governments to reform and educate, and build the means for peace. Extremism thrives on uncertainty, on lack of opportunities, on hunger and desperation. It is up to the governments of the 21st century not to allow these preconditions to persist,” he added.