If Kuwait and other mediating countries cannot make a breakthrough soon its unclear how the summit can even take place. What is clear is that it will take a long time for the people and the governments of the Gulf to trust each other again.
The siege on Doha is approaching the end of its third month.
This unprecedented crisis in the history of inter-Gulf relations has created a state of mistrust not only among the governments of the Gulf states but also among the citizens of those countries. People of the Gulf, that were once united by one religion, language and culture, are now navigating a profound gap after this fabricated crisis.
One of the key reasons behind it is the shamelessness of the rivalry, and especially by the media of the boycotted countries directed by their governments.
Several lessons can be drawn from this crisis, which was triggerd to occur on the tenth day of Ramadan, corresponding with the anniversary of the Naksah (Setback) experienced by the Arabs fifty years ago after their defeat by Israel. This time around, the Arab setback has been created and implemented by Arab regimes against a fellow Arab country.
The Gulf crisis shows that Qatar is a state of institutions, governed by the constitution of ‘sovereignty of the state’, and its work is framed by principles and values that cannot be compromised. Therefore, the aspirations of the besieged countries – to subject Doha to their agendas and ambitions and to make Qatar a dependent state – have been unsuccessful.
Perhaps one of the most important lessons learned from this crisis is the need to create a broad network of alliances and not to rely on, or merely strengthen, relations with the United States.
The US has been ambiguous from the outset and its stance has fluctuated between contradictory positions. The first position was issued by the establishment and was somewhat diplomatic and responsible.
The other position, issued by the US presidency, or Donald Trump, was biased and has been described at times as ‘personal’ and not representative of the official position of the United States.
This crisis has opened the door for major regional powers, like Turkey and Iran, to strengthen relations with several Arab Gulf states such as Qatar, Kuwait and Oman. This led to them strengthening their positions in the Gulf – exactly what the Saudi-led bloc was trying to prevent in the first place.
On the other hand, it appears that those who decided to besiege Qatar erred when they thought that their decision would isolate Doha from the outside world, weaken its economy and distort its reputation by promoting the idea that Qatar supports terrorism and terrorist organisations in the region.
They believed that Qatar would be forced to compromise on its policy positions. The opposite has happened: Qatari diplomacy has been extremely active during the past two months, as Qatari officials regularly travel between countries to explain the Qatari situation to the international community.
Thus, many countries and international organisations understand the reality of the crisis and the underlying reasons behind it.
This crisis established the notion that relations between states are governed by ‘international law’, which all the member states of the United Nations system are subject to, and not by the rule of might.
This event has shown that the international community, with all its members, did not and will not accept foreign dictates to a member state of the United Nations and one of an absolute sovereignty – and that the means of resolving political differences between civilised countries is dialogue, not dictates.
Qatari policymakers have repeatedly stressed that Qatar is different from the pre-blockade Qatar. The Qataris, united in their “government and people”, regard the 5 June incident as a betrayal, and are losing confidence in the three neighbouring countries that surrounded their capital by land, sea and air.
Rebuilding this confidence will take time.
What is more complicated in this Gulf–Qatari crisis is the involvement of Gulf residents and the politicisation of Hajj.
Although King Salman bin Abdulaziz ordered the opening of the only border crossing linking Qatar with the world—to the extent that Qatari citizens can perform Hajj without prior permission and at the expense of the Saudi king—it is unclear how this decision has been implemented so far.
So what about the future of the Gulf Cooperation Council? Will it remain as coherent as it ‘seemed’ before the crisis? What will this regional entity look like after the crisis?
As the mediator and host of the next session of the Supreme Council for the Arab Gulf States, the Gulf Summit in December, Kuwait is trying to reach a breakthrough in the current Gulf crisis. They want to hold the Gulf Summit on time, but will it succeed? It remains difficult to answer this question, or to respond to the challenge facing the Gulf countries as a whole.
There is no doubt that this crisis will end because it is not in the interest of either party to maintain or prolong it.
It is certain that relations between people and governments in the Gulf will need some time to heal—and it might be a long time—and return to the warmth that existed before the outbreak of this fabricated crisis.