Today, heads of state from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) bloc convene in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain,
Today, heads of state from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) bloc convene in Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, all in the Council, have blockaded Qatar, another member state, since June, 2017, with Egypt’s help.
The blockade has forced Doha to strengthen ties with Tehran and Ankara, two GCC competitors, and to find alternative investment partners. Despite the blockade, Qatar’s GDP growth rate rebounded in 2018’s second quarter after dipping last year, indicating economic resiliency.
Last Monday, Qatar withdrew from the Saudi-dominated OPEC cartel. The next day, Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud invited Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to today’s GCC summit, but it remains unclear what representative Qatar will send to the meetings.
With the invitation, Saudi Arabia may be attempting to appease the US, which has criticized the Saudi propagation of the spat. However, the invitation is more likely an attempt to promote GCC solidarity against Iran—indeed, the blockade would likely only be lifted if Doha cuts ties with Tehran and Islamist groups, like the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatar, with stronger connections to GCC competitors, has little reason to mend relations without Saudi economic concessions, which are highly unlikely. Thus, expect the blockade to continue.
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