Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani will attend a key summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Kuwait this week, according to Qatar’s foreign minister.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said on Sunday that Qatar’s leader had accepted the invitation to attend the two-day event held in Kuwait City starting on Tuesday, six months after a Saudi-led group of countries imposed a blockade against Qatar.
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“I will attend the ministerial council tomorrow and the emir will attend the summit,” news agencies quoted Sheikh Mohammed as saying at a forum in Qatar’s capital, Doha.
“It is important that the GCC system remains alive.”
Last week, Kuwait sent out invitations to all six GCC member states, but it was not clear whether all other leaders would attend.
Since the beginning of the blockade by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain – as well as Egypt – on Qatar on June 5, Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah has acted as a mediator to end the dispute.
In October, he warned of the potential collapse of the GCC if the crisis continues.
“Contrary to our wishes and hopes, the Gulf crisis has the potential of escalating; therefore, all of us must be fully aware of its potential consequences,” Sheikh Sabah said at the time.
“Any escalation will bring with it an outright call for regional and international intervention, which will destroy the security of the Gulf and its people.”
In late October, the king of Bahrain said his country will not take part in any summit or meeting attended by Qatar unless Doha “corrects its approach”.
Marwan Kabalan, director of policy analysis at the Doha Institute, told Al Jazeera that the danger of a GCC collapse was real.
“The emir of Kuwait knows very well that if the crisis runs for long, we’re going to see two blocks within the GCC. One is led by Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Bahrain, and the other will actually have Qatar, Oman and to a lesser extent, probably Kuwait,” he said.
“So we’ll be having then two GCCs, rather than one.”
The blockading countries have accused Qatar of supporting “terrorism”, maintaining cordial relations with Iran and meddling in the internal affairs of their countries – allegations the Qatari government has strongly denied.
Qatar maintains there is no legitimate justification for the Saudi-led group’s actions, calling its moves a violation of its sovereignty.
Kabalan said that Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in particular, were “still keen on Qatar surrendering completely to their demands”.
“This is something Qatar will not do,” he said.
“Qatar has made it clear many times, by the emir of Qatar and by other Qatari officials, that they cannot accept a total surrender. They want a negotiation. They want mutual concessions by all sides, actually, to solve the crisis,” added Kabalan.