Conflict Alerts

Conflict Alerts # 207, 7 January 2021

The Gulf Reconciliation: Blockade against Qatar lifted but the GCC crisis far from over
Poornima Balasubramanian

In the news
On 5 January, the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani headed to Al-Ula in Saudi Arabia, accepting an invitation from the Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz to attend the 41st Gulf Summit. On 4 January, the Abu Samra border between Qatar and Saudi Arabia was opened after more than three years of blockade. 

The summit witnessed the 'solidarity and stability' deal (also referred to as the Al-Ula statement) that calls for the end of the diplomatic blockade with Qatar and paves the way to wider negotiation space to extinguish the tensions with Doha. The deal was welcomed by several members of the Arab World as well as Iran. Egypt also signed a reconciliation agreement with Qatar during the summit. 

The Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, under whose oversee the blockade was put in place in 2017, stated that he hopes to see a unified effort towards confronting challenges in the region, most prominently, the threat posed by Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programme.   

Issues at large
First, the failure of the Qatar blockade. In 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a diplomatic and trade blockade on Qatar. The quartet accused Doha of its alleged support for terrorist outfits, its close ties with Iran and Al Jazeera's role in exacerbating the Arab Spring crisis. However, Qatar denied the allegations. Since the blockade's imposition, none of the objectives for which it was imposed, could be achieved against Qatar.

Second, the emergence of a strong Qatar. With the assertive policies steered by Emir al-Thani, Qatar has emerged as a more resilient state since the blockade. It had gradually adapted to the regional conditions and has devised ways to sustain its economy despite the blockade. Qatar has been continuing to have a working relationship with Iran.

Third, a divided GCC. Diverging interests and geopolitical imperatives of the concerned parties had delayed an opportune moment for the dispute to be resolved. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was rendered inefficient and weak as the members stood divided. Kuwait and the US have consistently used their diplomatic resources to bring the rift to an end.

Fourth, the US policies towards the Middle East. It has been consistent with bringing all its allies - including Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar on the same page. The lifting of blockade should be seen as a part of the American pressure.

In perspective 
Despite the signing of the reconciliation deal and the quartet's willingness to mend their relations with Qatar, much has to be dealt with to comprehensively cement the GCC's fissure. MBS has come to realize Iran a bigger threat that needs to be resisted, and Gulf Arab solidarity an instrumental for this purpose. The Middle East's recent geopolitics has been dynamic, with Arab states like the UAE and Bahrain normalizing relations with Israel. 

Tensions between the UAE and Qatar have been much deeper. In November 2020, the Foreign Minister of the UAE said that the Gulf reconciliation with Qatar was not even a priority. The two Gulf states were at loggerheads since 2018 over a racial discrimination case at the International Court of Justice. Moreover, Doha had suspected UAE's hands in using Israeli spyware to hack information about Al Jazeera journalists. 

Qatar stands firmly determined about the Palestinian cause by not agreeing to establish formal relations with Israel until a two-state solution is arrived at. While the reconciliation is set to improve the economic and diplomatic integration in the GCC, strong divergences of interest between Qatar and the other Persian Gulf Arab states over significant regional issues and concerns set the target point for complete reconciliation very high.

July 2021 | Conflict Alert # 411
Wildfires: Siberia to the US
July 2021 | Conflict Alert # 409
Bosnia: 26 years after the Srebrenica Massacre
July 2021 | Conflict Alert # 405
Colombia: Two months of protests
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 399
Myanmar: New UNGA resolution
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 397
Myanmar: The Aung San Suu Kyi trial begins
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 390
Burkina Faso: Another massacre in Africa
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 386
Nigeria: Another mass abduction grips Niger state
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 385
Colombia: The protests continue
May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 382
Israel-Hamas ceasefire: The long road to peace
May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 380
Colombia: Three weeks of protests

May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 378
Israel-Palestine: Who wants what?
May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 374
Yemen: The Battle for Marib rages on
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 371
Pakistan: Meetings with Afghan leaders
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 369
Israel-Syria: Continuing Missile Strikes
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 362
Iran: Another act of
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 358
India: Another Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 356
Global Gender Gap Report 2021: Main Takeaways

March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 353
Niger: 137 massacred in the latest attack by gunmen

March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 351
Yemen: Saudi Arabia announces ceasefire
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 347
Australia: Women fight against sexual violence 
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 345
The US: The George Floyd trial begins

March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 340
Syria: UN report calls for a complete ceasefire
February 2021 | Conflict Alert # 333
South Korea: The 'Comfort Women' issue returns to haunt

January 2021 | Conflict Alert # 222
Russia: Pro-Navalny protests turn anti-government 
January 2021 | Conflict Alert # 220
COVID-19: The Vaccine Wars
December 2020 | Conflict Alert # 200
India: Farmers' protests intensify as deadlock persists

November 2020 | Conflict Alert # 191
Pakistan: Anti-French protests called off
October 2020 | Conflict Alert # 174
Bangladesh: Protests intensify against sexual violence
October 2020 | Conflict Alert # 167
India crosses 6 million-mark in COVID-19 cases
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 166
Pakistan: The persisting polio problem
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 156
Pakistan: Targeted Violence continues in Waziristan

September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 154
The anti-Racist Protests in the US: Between
August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 148
Israel and UAE normalize relations

August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 146
Bolivia: Protests against the Election postponement
August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 138
In Iraq, the protestors return to the streets 
July 2020 | Conflict Alert # 118
J&K: Geelani's Exit and Continuing Violence
June 2020 | Conflict Alert # 105
Black Lives Matter brings the US to its knees
May 2020 | Conflict Alert # 86
Libya: Khalifa Haftar announces ceasefire 
May 2020 | Conflict Alert # 81
India: The surge in violence in J&K
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 71
Afghanistan: 300 Taliban prisoners released

April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 67
Syria: New UN Report on Idlib

April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 64
A lethal impact on the Refugee/Migrant Camps 
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 63
Indigenous Communities battle a complete wipeout 

March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 51
Coronavirus & China: Fall in numbers 

March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 47
Coronavirus & Nepal: In the second stage, cancels

March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 44
Two Presidents in Afghanistan
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 42
'Aurat March': A New beginning across Pakistan 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 38
Sri Lanka withdraws from 30/1 Geneva Resolution
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 35
A ceasefire between Israel, Islamic Jihad in Gaza

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 34
Libya: rivals withdraw from Geneva peace talks
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 33
India: Violence in Delhi
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 32
Afghanistan: Seven Days of Peace
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 31
Climate Change Fallouts: Impacts the Bird population

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 28
Pakistan: Court convicts LeT founder Hafiz Saeed
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 27
Pakistan: Suicide terrorism returns to haunt Quetta

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 26
Afghanistan: The US-Taliban Seven Day Deal
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 24
Israel: Violence in post  Trump-deal
January 2020 | Conflict Alert # 20
Kenya: Al Shabab and a week of killings
December 2019 | Conflict Alert # 19
Citizenship Amendment Bill:2019

November 2019 | Conflict Alert # 18
Lebanon: PM Hariri quits, but protests continue 
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 16
Bolivian unrest
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 15
Hundreds protest in Haiti

October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 14
Protests rock Chile
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 13
Hong Kong Violence: A divide within
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 12
Spain: The trouble in Catalonia
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 11
Turkey's Offensive in Syria

August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 9
Africa to be Polio Free
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 7
Myanmar: Teenage girls traded as brides to China

August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 6
Moscow Protests: Thousands rally in Moscow
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 3
Jordan Restores diplomatic ties with Qatar