Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have reopened their borders with Qatar ahead of a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Saudi’s Al-Ula province today.
The summit is intended to pave the way towards resolving a political dispute that led Riyadh and its allies to impose a boycott on Qatar more than three years ago.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a diplomatic, trade and travel boycott on Qatar in June 2017, accusing Doha of supporting “terrorism” and having ties with Iran that were deemed too close.
Qatar has repeatedly denied the allegations and said there was “no legitimate justification” for the severance of relations.
Qatar’s ruler, Emir Tamin, was warmly greeted by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on arrival in the kingdom for Tuesday’s GCC summit.
Mohammed bin Salman said that there was a desperate need for a unified Gulf region, after the signing of a “solidarity and stability” deal.
“These efforts helped us reach the agreement of the Al-Ula statement that will be signed at this summit, where we affirm our Gulf, Arab and Islamic solidarity and stability,” he told the GCC meeting, thanking the United States and Kuwait for their mediation.
“There is a desperate need today to unite our efforts to promote our region and to confront challenges that surround us, especially the threats posed by the Iranian regime’s nuclear and ballistic missile programme and its plans for sabotage and destruction.”
Leaders of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council signed two documents, the Al-Ula declaration, named after the Saudi city where the summit was held, and a final communique. The content of the documents was not immediately available.
In 2017 four Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia gave Qatar 10 days to comply with 13 sweeping demands in order to lift the ongoing diplomatic and trade embargo of the country.
The demands – which were not met – included:
- Curb diplomatic ties with Iran and close its diplomatic missions there.
- Sever all ties to “terrorist organisations”, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Formally declare those entities as terrorist groups.
- Shut down Al-Jazeera and its affiliate stations.
- Immediately terminate the Turkish military presence in Qatar and end any joint military cooperation with Turkey inside Qatar.
- Stop all contacts with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Hand over all files detailing Qatar’s prior contacts with and support for those opposition groups.