CAIRO: The withdrawn Gulf ambassadors from Qatar can return anytime, said Kuwaiti First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Khaled el-Hamad el-Gaber el-Sabah, in comments made following a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) conference Sunday.
On March 5, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatar after accusing Doha of failing to abide by an accord not to interfere in other GCC members’ internal affairs.
Sunday’s conference also addressed a wave of militancy targeting the region and the threats posed by the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, and the U.S administration’s reactions to it. A perceived common threat in IS may be drawing Qatar back into the fold of the GCC.
Held in Jeddah, the conference came after meetings between Gulf foreign ministers and a visit by a Saudi delegation to three Gulf capitals.
Sabah, who headed the conference, said the six GCC member countries reached an agreement on criteria which will assist in overcoming difficulties in the region, but he appeared uninterested in giving more details about these criteria or subsequent action.
The six GCC member countries include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar.
The Qatar crisis developed when the Qatari foreign minister refused to formally sign a GCC document calling for other members not to interfere in each other’s domestic affairs, despite Qatari verbal agreements to abide by the document during Gulf foreign minister meetings in Kuwait in 2013 and Riyadh in March 2014
Under former President Mohamed Morsi’s regime in Egypt, Qatar supported the Muslim Brotherhood and was against the ouster of Morsi on July 3, 2013. This ran in the face of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE, all vocal supporters of then-Defense Minister and current Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who led Morsi’s ouster.
Sabah said he cannot rule out a breakthrough in the dispute with Qatar, and signaled the importance of committing to the agreed upon, but hitherto unspecified criteria for improved relations. “We will see the results soon,” he added.
GCC Secretary-General Abdel Latif bin Rashid told journalists following the meeting that combating terrorism tops the Arab and Gulf countries’ agenda, and he mentioned a Saudi initiative to pay $100 million to establish an international center to combat terrorism as one of the examples of the Arab efforts in this regard.
“We carefully listened to President [Barack] Obama’s speech on forming a coalition and assigning Secretary of State John Kerry to tour the region, but we still need details about the coming steps,” added Sabah.
Sabah’s comments came in response to questions about the shift in U.S. policy stemming from statements on Aug. 29 calling on the need for world cooperation to fight IS in Iraq and Syria.