Thursday, March 6, 2014

Saudis, UAE, Bahrain withdraw envoys from Qatar in security dispute: the move will further undermine the coherence of the support that both Saudi Arabia and Qatar are providing rebels groups in Syria

    Thursday, March 06, 2014   No comments

A long-simmering row between Qatar and other Gulf states over its links with the Muslim Brotherhood and the role of its television station, Al-Jazeera, has exploded into the open with an angry shouting match and the withdrawal of ambassadors.
A joint statement by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain said they were withdrawing ambassadors from the Qatari capital Doha because it had failed to stick to an agreement by the six Gulf states not to interfere in each others’ affairs.
The statement was released after a meeting in Riyadh of foreign ministers of the six Gulf countries - the other two are Kuwait and Oman - broke up in acrimony on Tuesday night, according to reports in the local media.

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Qatar has said it “regretted” the decision but would not retaliate. It said it was committed to GCC agreements but admitted to "differences” over unspecified “issues".
David Roberts, author of a recent book on Qatari foreign policy, said that the other Gulf states had previously entertained unrealistic expectations that Qatar’s approach might change when the new ruler, Emir Tamim, came to power last year after the abdication of his father.
“Saudi Arabia and the UAE are in such a security-focused state of mind at the moment that it is the only lens they can see things through," he said. “Qatar’s approach is thus seen as deeply, deeply unhelpful.”
The rift is unlikely to have knock-on effects immediately, despite the importance of the region’s oil and gas supplies.
But it will further undermine the coherence of the support that both Saudi Arabia and Qatar are providing rebels groups in Syria.
Each has supported different rebel militias, and the lack of co-ordination and in-fighting on the ground has frustrated the rebels' western backers.
The US and UK had hoped that the two Gulf powers would more closely align their strategy after Emir Tamim took over, but those hopes look set to be dashed.

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