image of jerusalem 2017

The #GCCCrisis: Let’s Get Serious, Shall We?
So the latest issue to erupt now is whether the Qatari leader called the Saudi Crown Prince to discuss the #GCCCrisis, or whether it was the other way round! Sad really! Instead of being proud to make the first step in reaching out to the other for the sake of resolving this self-harming conflict, macho attitudes and concern over appearances have become more important! It is dangerous when egos overtake common sense, or when personal pride replaces shared interests.

10 September   |   2017   |   Subject  Middle East & North Africa (MENA)

And of course, once the two countries pumped up their self-righteousness, the media and pundits on both sides of the crisis - perhaps with varying degrees - leapt in to embellish their viewpoint and in the process demonise the other side and exacerbate further those entrenched positions. But then again, 101 Politics does not go beyond this level, does it?

Mind you, one would have thought that leaders of 6 Gulf countries who still refer to each other as “brother” (we are not yet at the stage of “sister”) and consider that the Council protects the interests of their countrymen (and women) would have shown more horse sense in their attitudes and would have figured out by now that personal angst often transmutes wise and long-term strategic moves into rash and short-term tactical decisions.

So on the back of those initial thoughts, I would like to share with readers 6 “statements” that define my own perception of where I believe we find ourselves with this crisis today:

  • The meeting of the Emir of Kuwait with President Donald J Trump at the White House debunked many of the claims by the Arab quartet (of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt) that the Qatari behaviour and ties alone led to the siege imposed against it. This is what I call botched politics.
  • With the candour with which the Emir of Kuwait described the Gulf crisis, I fear that Kuwaiti mediation has now become quite a bit tougher. The longer this crisis lasts, the harder it will become to find a face-saving solution given how high up the proverbial tree the Arab quartet have climbed with their demands and refusals.
  • Unless there is true leadership that breaks the impasse, or thinks laterally, it is conceivable the crisis might well rumble on. Meanwhile, the realities let alone relations between the GCC member-states have already altered radically and the GCC as a composite body can hardly claim to be a comfortable home for all of them.
  • Mind you, we need not have been here today were it not for the fact - as the Emir of Kuwait also intimated in DC - that the Arab quartet initiated this conflict immediately after the Riyadh summit of 20-21 May 2017 with 13 maximalist, peremptory and unworkable demands.
  • The one-day conference in London on 14 September is meant to bring the Qatari “opposition” together. It is a parody that might complicate matters and give some vanishing luminescence to a few local politicians. This is not an exercise in finding - or grooming - new political or tribal leaders for Qatar but of resolving a conflict. Personal calculations must be kept out of a crisis that is enfeebling further an oil and gas producing region.
  • Some experienced observers of the Gulf region are openly asking whether this is now the “new normal” in the Arab region and that it will become a zeitgeist of post-Syria and even post-Iraq realities? Are new alliances being forged and new sand lines being drawn in yet another moment of Arab miscarriage and division?

Many parties, from the EU to the USA, from France to Russia, have expressed a readiness to mediate in the #GCCCrisis. However, they alone cannot resolve this impasse, just as Qatar and the Arab quartet seem incapable of achieving a breakthrough on their own either. This is why Saudi Arabia must behave as the key leader it purports to be by showing magnanimity and resolve to assemble, not disassemble, the GCC. This means practically that it should not waste its efforts on who picked up the phone first or who needs a resolution to the crisis more but rather decide to call for a conference of all GCC leaders to seek ways of resolving the crisis. And it is better to have such a caucus in the region than at, say, Camp David, in order to show ownership of the process. There should also be US and EU observers (call them second-track mediators) present who could help catalyse the process and witness the agreements.

Will the GCC countries work on the common ground they still share in order to help save face as well as resolve the crisis? Or will they persist in their political antics that will not only rend the GCC asunder but help give the game away to the regional neighbours or foes who are watching this crisis with keen self-interest? Is it not high time to get serious?

© Dr Harry Hagopian   |   2017   |   10 September


Print or download a copy of this article.


Google: Yahoo: MSN: