x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 13 December 2017

How those who push 'harmful' agendas are losing ground

In the contest of ideas, those who purvey instability in the region are losing to the visionaries modernising their countries

A meeting of the GCC while the standoff with Qatar continued was seen by many as an infeasible proposition. Giuseppe Cacace / AFP
A meeting of the GCC while the standoff with Qatar continued was seen by many as an infeasible proposition. Giuseppe Cacace / AFP

The Gulf Cooperation Council’s annual summit was seen by observers of the region as one of the potential casualties of the crisis provoked by Qatar. Doha’s longstanding support for international terrorism, combined with its amplification of destabilising extremist views through its broadcasting and interference in the internal affairs of fellow Arab states, prompted Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt in June to sever ties with it. Since three of the four members of the quartet boycotting Qatar account for 50 per cent of the GCC’s membership, a meeting of the body while the standoff continued was seen by many as an infeasible proposition.

But the fact that the 38th annual summit of the GCC did go ahead in Kuwait this week demonstrates that the four countries are able to persist with the boycott without hampering the greater cooperation of among the Gulf countries. The resolve of the quartet to hold Qatar accountable does not conflict with or inhibit their ability to sift through the maze of other challenges to find collective solutions. Both objectives, as representatives of the quartet who attended the summit in Kuwait alongside the emir of Qatar showed, can be achieved without either being compromised. As Dr Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, affirmed after the summit ended, the “GCC will continue and prevail despite its crisis with Qatar”. For only “courage and wisdom”, he added, “will ensure the retraction of harmful policies in the region”.

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The authors of those policies, as Hassan Hassan explained in these pages on Thursday, are already in retreat, thanks to the manner in which the quartet has handled the crisis. From Yemen to Libya to Iraq, adversaries of the sponsors of terror are making incremental gains. Qatar’s capacity to pushback is significantly diminished by the quarantine on the country. Doha’s toxic policies, which once fomented so much strife in the region, are no longer as effective. The alliance between the UAE and Saudi Arabia is only intensifying this anti-militant trend.

Ultimately, as Stephen Hadley, who served as national security adviser to former US president George W Bush, tells The National this week, the contest in this region is between two visions. One seeks to provide people “better jobs, better health care” by advancing their economies “into the 21st century”. The other seeks to breed instability and spread terror. The UAE and Saudi Arabia, Mr Hadley said, are at the forefront of modernising their economies and bringing prosperity to their citizens. Qatar, he hoped, will one day “come back into the fold” of fraternal Arab states as “a responsible player”, no longer financing terror or colluding with Iran. That is also the quartet’s hope – and in holding Qatar to account, it is upholding the values of the GCC.

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