World View: Gulf Nations Paper over Their Differences for GCC Summit in December

World View: Gulf Nations Paper over Their Differences for GCC Summit in December

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Gulf nations paper over their differences for GCC Summit in December
  • United Arab Emirates identifies 86 terrorist groups
  • Egypt may be considering release of al-Jazeera reporters

Gulf nations paper over their differences for GCC Summit in December

GCC Summit meeting in 2009
GCC Summit meeting in 2009

Saudi Arabia has managed to mediate a reconciliation among the membersof the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that very publicly andvitriolicly split in March of this year, when Saudi Arabia, the UnitedArab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatarafter a stormy GCC meeting. This year’s GCC annual summit wasoriginally scheduled for November 10, but was postponed to December9-10. Now, the three countries had agreed to put their differencesaside, at least until the end of the summit meeting, and return theirambassadors to Qatar.

Since the GCC was formed in 1981, there have always been differencesbetween the individual countries, but until the explosion earlier thisyear, they were carefully hidden from the public. The trigger thatraised tensions among the countries was the army coup, in July 2013,that ousted Egypt’s president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhoodgovernment. Qatar supports the Muslim Brotherhood, or at least isneutral towards it, and supported Morsi with billions of dollars inaid, and Qatar opposes the presidency of former army general Abdelal-Fattah al-Sisi. Saudi Arabia and UAE support al-Sisi with billionsof dollars of aid, and consider the Muslim Brotherhood to be aterrorist organization.

Relations between Qatar and Egypt have been further complicatedbecause Qatar is the home of al-Jazeera, which reported on the bloodyarmy crackdown on protesters following the coup. Egypt got revenge byjailing three al-Jazeera reporters, who remain in jail to this day,and have given sentences of 7-10 years.

As I’ve written several times, there has been a major Mideast realignment following the Gaza war, bringing Israel plus Egypt plus Saudi Arabia in allianceversus Hamas plus Qatar plus Turkey. This was, and continues to be, asharp and bitter division.

So now, in the last few weeks, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud ofSaudi Arabia says that these differences have all been resolved.That’s not particularly credible. The GCC Summit on December 9-10 maybe extremely stormy, and another bitter split may go beyond shoutingto violence. Asharq Al Awsat (Riyadh) and Reuters

United Arab Emirates identifies 86 terrorist groups

One sign that sharp differences remain is that the United ArabEmirates (UAE) has announced a list, controversial in the Arab world,naming 86 organizations that it considers to be terrorist. Some areuncontroversial, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS orISIS or ISIL), Jabhat al-Nusra, the Taliban, Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda inthe Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and Al-Qaeda on the Islamic Maghreb(AQIM).

Also named were Iran-supported groups, including the Houthis in Yemen,and Hezbollah’s affiliates in the Gulf states — though notHezbollah’s main branch in Lebanon, considered a terroristorganization by the U.S. and the West.

But two Qatari-supported groups, the Muslim Brotherhood and theUnion of Muslim Scholars in Qatar, are named.

Hamas was not named.

Within the United States, the most controversial selection will be theWashington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Alsoincluded are the Muslim Association of Britain and the Islamic ReliefOrganisation in London.

Some Muslim analysts complain that the inclusion of theseorganizations fosters Islamophobia in the U.S. and Britain. Accordingto Anas al-Tikriti, the former president of the Muslim Association ofBritain, the terrorist list is “beyond ludicrous”:

The fact that it piles together terrorist groups likeBoko Haram and IS with think tanks and research centers who aren’tinvolved in political work and who espouse democratic principlesbelies any kind of rationality or logic.

Some of these organizations represent tens of thousands ofpeople. Does the UAE mean to suggest there are tens of thousandsof terrorists throughout the world from America, to Europe, toAfrica?

The National (UAE) and Middle East Eye and Gulf News – complete list and Al-Jazeera

Egypt may be considering release of al-Jazeera reporters

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has beenencouraging Egypt to fix its strained relations with Qatar, and oneconsequence is that Egypt’s president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi may beconsidering releasing the three al-Jazeera journalists. Inan interview with France24, al-Sisi said:

[At the time of the journalists’ arrests, I] did nothave the power to take decisions about their situation. If I werepresident at that time, I would have decided, for the good and thesecurity of Egypt, that the journalists would have to be expelled,so [it would] put an end to this issue once and forall.

Al-Sisi has said things like this before, but this time, whenasked whether he intends to issue a presidential pardon, hesaid:

Let me just say, this issue is currently underdiscussion so that we may find a solution.

This indicates, for the first time, that some kind of negotiation isgoing on that might result in the release of the reporters. Thereporters’ fates may be in the hands of the GCC negotiations, andparticularly any possible reconciliation between Egypt and Qatar.France 24 and Al-Jazeera

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC,Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar,Egypt, Mohammed Morsi, Muslim Brotherhood, Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi,King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, al-Jazeera,Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, Anas al-Tikriti,Muslim Association of Britain, Islamic Relief Organisation,Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL,Al-Qaeda on the Islamic Maghreb, AQIM,Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, AQAP, Yemen
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