Gulf leaders signed a ‘solidarity and stability’ agreement towards ending the diplomatic rift at a GCC summit.
The Saudi foreign minister has said that Saudi Arabia and its three Arab allies agreed to restore full ties with Qatar.
His remarks came after Gulf leaders signed a “solidarity and stability” agreement in Saudi Arabia as they met for the Gulf Cooperation Council annual summit on Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia on Monday announced the reopening of land borders with Qatar after a three and a half-year spat that saw the kingdom, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain cut diplomatic and trade ties and impose a land, sea and air blockade on the Gulf state.
The quartet accused Doha of, among other things, supporting terrorist groups and being too close to Iran, allegations that Qatar has consistently denied.
While the Saudi decision marks a major milestone towards resolving the Gulf crisis, the path to full reconciliation is far from guaranteed. The rift between Abu Dhabi and Doha has been deepest, with the UAE and Qatar at sharp ideological odds.
Here’s a timeline of the recent developments:
Qatari Diar Real Estate Company has announced the official opening of the St. Regis Hotel in Cairo that it wholly owns.
The opening ceremony on Tuesday took place in St. Regis Cairo, and was attended by Ali Shareef Al Emadi, Qatar’s minister of finance, the United States Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, and Mohamed Moait, the minister of Finance of Egypt.
A senior United Arab Emirates official voiced optimism over the agreement, but said trust-building measures were needed to reestablish ties.
“We need to be realistic about the need to restore confidence and restore cohesion,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash told Al Arabiya television.
Egypt signed a reconciliation agreement with Qatar at the GCC summit, its foreign ministry said.
The ministry said the country “appreciates every sincere effort made to achieve reconciliation between the Arab quartet countries [Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain] and Qatar.”
The agreement would consolidate Arab action in the face of regional challenges, it said, and hailed efforts for reconciliation between the Arab quartet and Qatar, especially by Kuwait.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif congratulated Qatar after the announcement of the GCC deal.
“Congratulations to Qatar for the success of its brave resistance to pressure & extortion,” he wrote on Twitter.
He added: “To our other Arab neighbors: Iran is neither an enemy nor threat. Enough scapegoating-especially with your reckless patron on his way out. Time to take our offer for a strong region.”
Congratulations to Qatar for the success of its brave resistance to pressure & extortion.
To our other Arab neighbors: Iran is neither an enemy nor threat. Enough scapegoating—especially with your reckless patron on his way out.
Time to take our offer for a strong region. #HOPE
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 5, 2021
The agreement signed by Gulf Arab leaders aimed at resolving the Gulf crisis has been cautiously welcomed by Qatari nationals.
Read more here.
Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, said that the final communique of the GCC summit is a major achievement to heal the rift in the region, end the Gulf crisis and restore the brotherly relations to their normal course.
He added that the result will bolster solidarity and stability in the Arab Gulf region, serve its people’s aspirations for development and prosperity and strengthen pan-Arab solidarity.
The Saudi crown prince met Qatar emir and reviewed bilateral ties the two “brotherly” countries and ways of enforcing joint Gulf action, the Saudi state news agency reported.
Saudi Arabia and its three Arab allies agreed to restore full ties with Doha at a summit in the kingdom on Tuesday, the Saudi foreign minister said.
Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud told a news conference after the gathering of the Gulf summit, also attended by Egypt, that there was political will and good faith to guarantee implementation of the agreement to restore diplomatic and other ties, including resumption of flights.
Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit has welcomed the outcome of the Gulf summit, saying that “any effective measure that leads to calm and normalcy among Arab countries will be in the interest of the collective Arab unity.”
“There is no doubt that the huge challenges facing the Arab world call for healing the rift as soon as possible and achieving consensus between Arab brothers, as any Arab differences should be solved for the sake of Arab security, which we all need as soon as possible,” he added.
Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum called the GCC summit “positive”.
“Today, I took part in the Al Ula Summit of the GCC leaders … a positive summit unifying ranks and establishing fraternity under the patronage of King Salman and his Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman … Changes and challenges surrounding us require genuine Gulf strength, cohesion and cooperation as well as Arab depth and stability,” he posted on Twitter.
Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal, who followed the Gulf dispute closely, said that it was evident that the Gulf leaders, at least Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, spared no effort to show that the summit was a new page in GCC relations.
“This is essentially an end to a feud that destabilised the region for three and a half years and beginning of the new era,” he said from Doha.
“Not only this is seen a new chapter in Gulf relations, it is also seen as a new chapter in Saudi Arabia,” Elshayyal also said.
He added: “Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was previously seen as erratic and undiplomatic, is now positioning himself as more of a statesman, who can overcome differences and bring people together.”
Gulf leaders have signed a ‘solidarity and stability’ deal to end their more than three-year diplomatic rift with Qatar at the 41st GCC summit in Saudi Arabia.
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) January 5, 2021
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that there was a desperate need for a unified Gulf region, after the signing of the “solidarity and stability” deal.
“These efforts helped us reach the agreement of the Al-Ula statement that will be signed at this summit, where we affirm our Gulf, Arab and Islamic solidarity and stability,” he told the GCC meeting, thanking the United States and Kuwait for their mediation.
“There is a desperate need today to unite our efforts to promote our region and to confront challenges that surround us, especially the threats posed by the Iranian regime’s nuclear and ballistic missile programme and its plans for sabotage and destruction.”
Leaders of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council signed two documents, the Al-Ula declaration, named after the Saudi city where the summit was held, and a final communique. The content of the documents was not immediately available.
Qatar shares ended 1.4 percent higher, marking the index’s biggest gain in nearly a month, after the breakthrough deal in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi shares finished 0.2 percent higher, as the Dubai benchmark gained for a third successive session, putting on 1.2 percent. In Abu Dhabi, the benchmark strengthened 0.6 percent.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has announced that GCC member states have agreed on a ‘solidarity and stability’ deal to end the three-year diplomatic spat with Qatar.
Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Doha, said Tuesday’s GCC summit will likely set the tone for wider talks that would take place in the short to medium term to resolve other outstanding issues.
“It is a crucial gathering because this when they will have to start talking about some of the outstanding elements” Ahelbarra said.
“They will have to decide on the modalities of the agreement. Later, they will have to say that the core issues are ones that will need some time to solve because we are talking about a wide range of issues that have to do with the region and other parts of the world.”
The Abu Samra border crossing between Saudi Arabia and Qatar was quiet on Tuesday morning as a summit of the regional Gulf Cooperation Council got underway.
“It’s still quiet at the border. No facilities have been set up yet for dealing with COVID-requirements – temperature check and testing,” said Al Jazeera’s Sorin Furcoi, reporting from Abu Samra.
“People are still coming to the border point to inquire as to whether they can actually across but according to officials, there still hasn’t been any crossing on either side.”
Qatar’s ruler was warmly greeted by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on arrival in the kingdom for Tuesday’s GCC summit.
Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani’s Airbus A340, emblazoned with the word “QATAR” in the emirate’s signature burgundy, landed in Al-Ula, northwestern Saudi Arabia, shortly after 0900 GMT, Saudi state television showed.
Watch the moment Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani arrives in Saudi Arabia for a historic summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
He was greeted by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman 👇 pic.twitter.com/p6iD54YsWe
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) January 5, 2021
Asian stocks headed higher on Tuesday with Chinese stocks getting a boost after the New York Stock Exchange made a surprise about-turn on its decision to delist the shares of three of China’s biggest telecommunications companies.
Qatari stocks were also up sharply on hopes of a resolution to the years-long dispute with its Gulf neighbours, while crude oil investors were waiting for the outcome of a meeting of the world’s top producers to determine output levels.
Shares rose despite uncertainty about Senate runoffs in the US state of Georgia, which could have a big impact on incoming US President Joe Biden’s ability to pursue his preferred economic policies.
Read more here.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will attend Tuesday’s GCC summit, an official source was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.
Sultan Barakat, director of the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies at the Doha Institute, said Qatar has emerged as a more resilient country since the blockade was imposed more than three years ago.
“Over the last few years, the Qataris have managed to learn to live with the blockade and that has helped them discover better ways of living and more efficient ways of sustaining their economy and managing their affairs,” Barakat told Al Jazeera.
“This resulted in an extremely resilient country that has demonstrated itself in the lifting of the blockade without them having to address the totally irrational 13 conditions,” he said, referring to a list of demands the quartet had initially set as a precondition for the lifting of the blockade.
Citing unnamed sources, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya reported that Egypt will open its airspace with Qatar, adding that “implementation will be contingent on the fulfillment of Egyptian requirements”.
The Dubai-based news outlet gave no details on what demands the Egyptian government was after.
The Abu Samra border crossing between Saudi Arabia and Qatar was quiet on Tuesday morning, several hours after Kuwait announced the border was open.
It is not yet clear what the rules are for crossing the border, however, Qatar is not allowing non-resident visitors into the country as part of COVID-19 restrictions.
“There still has been no crossings after yesterday’s announcement,” Al Jazeera’s Sorin Furcoi said, reporting from the border. “It’s even quieter than last night. They also don’t allow the press to hang around for too long in the customs area.”
Qatar’s ruler Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani headed to Saudi Arabia, state media said, for a Gulf Arab summit that is expected to see formal agreement towards ending a dispute that has seen Riyadh and its allies boycott Qatar.
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