The Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) summit was again overshadowed by the crisis pitting Qatar against the GCC-3 of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE (GSN 1,040/1). Qatar attended the 9 December summit – although Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani was one of three heads of state who stayed away from the annual meeting, this year held in Riyadh – but 18 months after the GCC-3’s boycott was launched against Doha it is becoming ever harder to paper over the cracks of regional disunity. There was no sign of any unexpected radical shift in key leaders’ thinking, leaving a consensus that the one-day summit had achieved nothing other than to entrench existing positions.
The leader who has done most to try to heal regional divisions, Kuwait’s 89-year-old Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, made a clear reference to the Qatar crisis when he told the gathering that “we face a serious threat to the unity of our position”. With the GCC split into factions, “unfortunately, the world is beginning to see us as a shaken entity whose interests no longer enjoy the guarantees provided at times of unity and cohesion”.
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