All six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations would like unity of purpose in these troubled times that afflict the region. Therefore, it will not be unusual if Kuwait, which was visited by the Emir of Qatar, Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, on Wednesday, decided to step forward to mediate in the ongoing crisis between Qatar and the other GCC members.
The crisis needs to be resolved and Kuwait has a good record of intermediating in disputes — as it had done in 2014, when Qatar last broken from the established position of GCC unity.
But Qatar must, this time, realise that any new accord must be implemented in letter and spirit, commit to the pledges to which it agrees and uphold the principles of unity and solidarity on which the GCC is based.
The challenge is that this commitment by Qatar seems uncertain. On May 21, all the GCC leaders met United States President Donald Trump, and all the GCC leaders, including Qatar, re-committed themselves to the ongoing fight against terror across the region — this time with the full support of the US. They specifically mentioned the dangers of extremism and violence as found in the forces of Al Qaida and Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and as backed by the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, as well as recognising the need to resist the spread of sectarian hatred and violence as supported by Iran across the region.
With this joint statement in mind, it was therefore astonishing that the Qatar News Agency could report a speech apparently by the emir, criticising the fight against terror and calling for a recognition of Iran as an important neighbour. Such serious deviation from the GCC position on such sensitive issues, immediately after a joint summit with the US president, infuriated the other GCC members, particularly since there has been no clear denial of the speech by Qatar, although the news agency claimed that it had been hacked.
The GCC is in the forefront of the fight to restore good governance and stable nation-states across the region, and root out the pestilence of terror and extremism. The troubled state of Iraq, the misery of Syria’s civil wars, the lingering destruction in Libya and the war and humanitarian disaster in Yemen all need urgent action. This is why the GCC is on the right path, and this is why the principles contained in the joint summit are so important. The people of the Middle East deserve a return to normality, and Qatar needs to be part of that task.