x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Relations between the Gulf countries take a more challenging turn

Change is the word that comes to mind when you observe the current political and strategic happenings throughout the Arab world.

Consider the rift within the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that has led regional and local media commentators to wonder about the future of this region and its traditional relationships.

Writing in the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat, columnist Fahad Al Dgheter said that the biggest instrument used by Qatar in its dispute with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE was the Muslim Brotherhood through its support for Mohammed Morsi, before and during his failed presidency in Egypt.

But the rift runs much deeper than that, as the Qatar-based preacher Yusuf Al Qaradawi’s most recent remarks indicated.

He has struck again with a campaign of accusations against Field Marshall Abdel Fattah El Sisi, observed Tariq Al Hamid in the pan-Arab daily Asharq El Awsat, before asking: “Who is it that Mr Al Qaradawi represents?”

“Naturally, there is no novelty in Mr Al Qaradawi’s latest statements, except for the fact that they came at a time when there is talk about Qatar’s will to resolve the crisis among the GCC countries, especially after the speech by Qatar’s emir before the Arab Summit in Kuwait, that highlighted the brotherly relations with Egypt,” wrote Hamid.

“Who does Mr Al Qaradawi really represent? Does he represent the Muslim Brotherhood, or does he stand for Qatar?

“Or is he simply a political activist who solely represents himself?

“Should he represent the Muslim Brotherhood, then their latest statement contradicts his.

“Should he speak on behalf of the Egyptians, his words contradict the positions of the crowds that took to the streets on June 30 last year.

“If he speaks as a political activist and represents only himself, then Qataris have to take responsibility for his words, because he is a Qatari national who speaks from within his country and attacks Egypt in conferences organised in the Qatari capital, Doha.

“Or does Mr Al Qaradawi simply speak in the name of Qatar? That would be unfortunate.”

The Gulf region must seriously think about cohesion in each individual country first and then a genuine cohesion within the GCC, wrote Youssef Al Hassan in the UAE-based newspaper Al Khaleej, as he pondered the current rifts.

“Activating the role of the GCC in the Arab region’s order is a necessity, as it will give an impunity to the council itself, particularly in light of the important role Egypt is expected to play in the region,” he explained.

It is important to understand the nature of the risks and challenges that lie ahead for the GCC if the rift is to be healed, the writer added.

cmirza@thenational.ae