There appears to be no sign of resolution to the standoff that began on June 5.

The Saudi-led coalition accuses Qatar of regional meddling, citing this as the source of the diplomatic rift. Qatar, however, claims the blockade is an effort to undermine its autonomy and impede freedom of speech.

Part One

In part one of this Upfront Special, Mehdi Hasan delves into the core issues behind the feud.

For Qatar's Ambassador to Russia, Fahad bin Mohammed al-Attiyah, the sudden blockade is a Saudi power-move and an attack on the country's sovereignty.

"We are not a province of Saudi Arabia. We are not a province of the UAE. We are an independent nation with our own foreign policy that does not undermine the security of our neighbours in the region," Fahad bin Mohammed said.

"You cannot have sovereignty if you are going to undermine the security of your neighbours. When your three neighbours, your only three physical neighbours, turn against you, in addition to Egypt, something's wrong," argued Saudi analyst Ali al Shihabi.

"You can give Qatar credit for backing revolution everywhere but Qatar," added Shihabi, who is also Director at the Arabia Foundation, and accuses the Gulf nation of undermining its neighbours' security.

With the Qatari government continuing to view the demands as unrealistic, the future of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) seems uncertain.

"They will be held accountable for all the violations they've committed against Qatar in breach of all the international conventions," said Fahad bin Mohammed.

In this segment of UpFront's GCC special Qatar's Ambassador to Russia, Fahad bin Mohammed al-Attiyah, and Director at the Arabia Foundation Ali al Shihabi debate the issues behind the ongoing crisis.

Part Two

Many argue that the US plays a key mediating role in the path to a solution, despite the clear divisions within the administration. When the Saudi-led coalition announced its blockade against Qatar, US President Donald Trump voiced high praise for the decision. Trump's own State Department, however, quickly called for dialogue.

In part two, Middle East policy experts Bernard Haykel and Barbara Slavin discuss Washington's role in Gulf politics, and the future of the GCC as regional alliances appear to shift.

Haykel, a historian and professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, argues that a more cohesive American policy could mean a swift end to divide in the Gulf.

"I think if Donald Trump and [US Secretary of State] Tillerson and [US Secretary of Defense] Mattis were on the same page, it would've ended much quicker," he said.

When asked about the timing and motivation behind the blockade, Haykel said consolidation of power was a key factor.

"Saudi Arabia and the UAE want to consolidate and unite all Sunni powers against both Iran and against ISIS, show Trump that they're united, and Qatar was the one, sort of,  squeaky wheel in that configuration," said Haykel.

Slavin, Director of the Future Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, argues that despite GCC intentions, Iran is a beneficiary of the rivalry.

"The Iranians look like they're humanitarians, they're coming to the aid of this little country which is being bullied by its big neighbours," she said.

In the second segment of the UpFront GCC special, Middle East policy experts Barbara Slavin and Bernard Haykel debate the regional implications of the crisis, and whether US involvement is helping or hindering progress.

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Source: Al Jazeera News