A key regional summit of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries has been cut short and will conclude on Tuesday instead of Wednesday, with all the delegates leaving Kuwait after a closed session.
The Kuwait summit takes place exactly six months after three of the member states severed diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar.
The move comes as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced that it had formed a new economic and military partnership with Saudi Arabia separate from the GCC.
It is clear now that Emiratis and Saudis have no intention of supporting stability in the GCC, no intention of supporting Kuwait's mediation efforts, and no intention to end the crisis one or other.
“So far it is not looking promising at the summit after the limited optimism in the beginning when the six member states agreed that they would meet in Kuwait to break the diplomatic impasse,” said Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal, reporting from Kuwait City.
“Bahrain has decided to send a third level diplomat, the deputy prime minister and Saudi Arabia has sent Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir instead of a royal family member.
“It’s clear the summit won’t yield any of the positive outcomes that we thought.”
‘The GCC is effectively dead’
Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, has arrived in Kuwait City for the summit, but heads of states from the three blockading countries – Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain – will not make it to the summit.
Oman said that a high ranking official would represent Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, while Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir will lead the Saudi delegation at the 38th annual summit.
The agenda of this year’s summit, one of the most significant official encounters since the crisis erupted in June, has not been made public, but the Gulf crisis will be a top priority.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE cut ties with Qatar on June 5 after accusing it of supporting “terrorism”, allegations that Qatar strongly denies.
“It seems that there is an intention by the by the Saudis and Emiratis, especially with the timing of the announcement [of the new partnership] today, to say that the GCC is effectively dead,” said Majed al-Ansari from Qatar University.
“It is clear now that Emiratis and Saudis have no intention of supporting stability in the GCC, no intention of supporting Kuwait’s mediation efforts, and no intention to end the crisis one or other.”
Qatar for dialogue
The talks could define the very future of the bloc that was established in 1981 for closer economic, trade and security partnerships on the Arabian Peninsula.
In October, Kuwait’s emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, who has been mediating the standoff, warned of the potential collapse of the GCC if the crisis continued.
In late October, the king of Bahrain said his country would not take part in any summit or meeting attended by Qatar unless Doha “corrects its approach”.
Qatar’s emir has agreed to resolve the crisis through dialogue, but Kuwait’s call for talks has not been accepted by the blockading countries.
The ongoing war in Yemen is also expected to be a topic of discussion. A Saudi-led coalition has been bombing the poorest nation in the Middle East since March 2015, creating one of the biggest humanitarian disasters of modern times.
The killing of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Monday by the Houthi rebels, who control vast expanses of the country, has thrown the country into deeper chaos.