5/1/2021–|Last updated: 5/1/202103:39 PM (Makkah)
The work of the 41st Gulf summit began today, Tuesday, in the city of Al-Ula, northwest of Saudi Arabia, amid a common eagerness to reach a settlement of the Gulf crisis, with an emphasis on the need to preserve the unity of the Gulf ranks in the face of regional challenges.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman presided over the summit, appreciating in his speech efforts to bridge the Gulf rift led by Kuwait and headed by the late Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, as well as under the auspices of the United States.
He pointed out that the Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz instructed to release the names of Sultan Qaboos (the late Sultan of Oman) and Sheikh Sabah, may God have mercy on them, at the summit.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that the Iranian nuclear program threatens regional and international peace and security, stressing the need to enhance integration between the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
In turn, the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, affirmed that the summit comes to support joint Gulf action and seeks to achieve the aspiration of the peoples of the region.
The Emir of Kuwait appreciated the American efforts to heal the rift between the countries of the region, before the Gulf leaders signed the final statement of the summit and the “Al-Ula statement.”
Kuwait announced hours before the start of the summit that Saudi Arabia would reopen its airspace and its land and sea borders with Qatar after 3 and a half years of the blockade.
Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmed Nasser Al-Sabah said that the Emir of Kuwait had a phone call yesterday with the Emir of the State of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.
He explained, “During the call, it was emphasized that everyone was keen on unity, reunification and the gathering of the word by signing the Al-Ola statement, which promises – God willing – to mark the beginning of a bright page in fraternal relations, free of any symptoms that may be tainted.”
The Saudi Press Agency reported today, Tuesday, that Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah made a phone call to the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister.
The agency added that the two ministers “discussed, during the contact, brotherly relations between the two brotherly countries, in addition to reviewing regional and international issues of common interest.”
The Emir of the State of Qatar is participating at the head of his country’s delegation in the summit, and he arrived in Al-Ula, where he was received by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who embraced him when he got off the plane.
The Emir of Kuwait leads his country’s delegation, and the Omani Deputy Prime Minister for Cabinet Affairs, Fahd bin Mahmoud Al Said, heads the Sultanate’s delegation at the Gulf Summit on behalf of Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said.
Bahrain is represented by the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, on behalf of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
The Vice President of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, is also heading his country’s delegation to the summit, while Egypt is represented by Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.
End the conflict
A senior US administration official said that a breakthrough was achieved in the dispute that has been going on for more than 3 years between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.
While Saudi Arabia has made it clear that it intends to lift the blockade, the other three countries have not issued a similar statement, but the US official said, “We expect” that they will also join the lifting of the blockade, adding that according to the expected agreement at this summit, Qatar will abandon the lawsuits related to the blockade.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt had severed their relations with Qatar and imposed a sea, land and air blockade on it since mid-2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Qatar denied this, saying the blockade aimed to undermine its sovereignty.