16 June, 2017

GCC IN REVIEW: 12 - 16 June

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Kingdom of Bahrain

Thursday, 15 June—Bahrain’s Ministry of Justice announced that 26 terror group members were stripped of Bahraini citizenship. This decision comes as authorities attempt to prevent foreign fighters from returning to Bahrain from Iraq and Syria. Bahrain’s move confirms the Kingdom’s commitment in fighting the organization of terrorist activities across the Middle East. 

Friday, 16 June—Bahrain unveils new documentation, previously kept secret not to undermine GCC unity, which demonstrates Doha’s cooperation with Iran in promoting instability in Bahrain’s capital Manama in 2011. In particular, the so-called, Qatar Initiative, was aimed at promoting mass demonstrations and the release of inmates from Bahraini prisons. 

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Thursday, 15 June—Doha’s recent behavior caused the Saudi business community operating in Qatar, made of 388 companies in various sectors, to reconsider its affairs in Qatar. This takes place in solidarity with the measures undertaken by countries calling for Doha to halt support of terrorists groups. The private sector considers investing in Qatar increasingly unsafe. This is likely to put further strain on Qatar’s economy as the blockade continues. 

Friday, 16 June—The Saudi King, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, received a telephone call from Theresa May. The British prime minister was keen to discuss ways to increase UK-KSA counterterrorism cooperation.

State of Kuwait

Tuesday, 13 June—Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, leader of Kuwait continues its round of consultations with regional leaders aimed at bridging the Gulf diplomatic row. During his Jordan visit, the Kuwaiti leader stressed the importance of Arab unity to face the difficult challenges ahead. 

Thursday, 15 June—Kuwaiti leaders stressed the importance for Turkey not to undertake a dangerous separate diplomatic efforts and to join forces with Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah who is currently mediating to resolve the current Gulf diplomatic crisis.

State of Qatar 

Wednesday, 14 June—Qatar, despite being the world's second largest helium producer, was forced to close its two helium production plants following the closure of the Saudi-Qatar land border. 

Friday, 16 June—Washington and Doha signed a $12bn deal to buy US F-15 fighter jets despite Donald Trump echoing Saudi, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt’s accusations against Qatar’s foreign policy.

Friday, 16 June—Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader, Khalid Batarfi, spoke out in support of the Doha elite and against the diplomatic measures taken by other Arab countries against Qatar. Furthermore, he described the recently Qatar-linked terror list as a “war against Islam and Muslims.” Support form AQAP leader is unlikely to ameliorate Qatar’s international image. Doha is accused of financing and supporting international terrorism.

Sultanate of Oman

Thursday, 15 June—Oman’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yousef bin Alawi bin Abdullah,  received a phone call from, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Both leaders stressed the importance of supporting the efforts led by the Kuwaiti Sheik to contain the crisis among GCC members. Oman and the US are particularly concerned about the possible negative financial and economic impacts generated by the current diplomatic crisis in the Gulf.

United Arab Emirates

Thursday, 15 June—The official spokesman for the UAE government, Anwar Gargash, criticised Qatar’s stubbornness in refusing to address the core grievances of its GCC neighbours. 

Friday, 16 June—The UAE Foreign Affairs Minister, Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, during their meeting, thanked US State Secretary Tillerson for taking the lead to engage and strengthen America’s relationship with its key regional partners and for his assertive approach against extremism and aggression. This meeting was particularly significant as the UAE attempts  to increase pressure on Qatar to force a change in Doha GCC-hostile foreign policy. 

By Antonino Occhiuto 

Researcher