As Europe has muted celebrations over the Brexit agreement progressing, the Emir of Kuwait has called for a committee to be formed to consider changes to the rules of the Gulf Cooperation Council, to create an environment where disputes and diplomatic rifts can be resolved, and not put the future of the council at risk. This follows a proposed two-day summit at Bayan Palace, Kuwait City this week which was abandoned after only fifteen minutes.
The Council was formed in 1981 and currently consists of Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It was formed as an economic partnership, and it was intended to have a customs union, common market and a unified currency. There have also been suggestions of a possible unified fighting force as well. Sadly, recently there have been diplomatic rifts within the group, and one of the major stumbling blocks has been a diplomatic crisis involving Qatar.
In June, Qatar complained of what it described as a hack of its state-run news agency and the circulation of incendiary comments attributed to its ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. This was almost immediately followed by Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE closing their airspace and harbours to Qatar, and the UAE closing its land-border with Qatar.
Just prior to the summit, Saudi Arabia and the UAE announced a joint co-operation committee, and for some time their troops have been fighting alongside each other in the war in Yemen. It is not known if any other countries may join this committee, and in addition the original six there has also been talk of other nations such as Jordan and Morocco joining the group.
There was some anger about the attendees of the meeting, as only Kuwait and Qatar had sent their ruling Emirs. However, showing the tact and diplomacy, he had learnt in many years as Kuwait’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Sabah IV Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, Emir of Kuwait, said: “The past few months have seen several painful incidents and negative repercussions, but we believe that wisdom will prevail,” he continued. “Our meeting today is an indicator that we shall continue our efforts to resolve the crisis”. We will have to wait and see how this plays out over the coming months.