Crises cloud GCC meet | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 10, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, December 10, 2018

Crises cloud GCC meet

Qatar emir to skip summit with Gulf rivals in Riyadh; US urges Saudi to mend fences with Doha

Qatar said its emir will skip a summit of Arab Gulf leaders in Saudi Arabia, which has spearheaded a boycott of the small but energy-flush neighbour and sparked a major regional diplomatic row.

Riyadh was hosting the annual gathering yesterday as crises brew over the 18-month-old dispute with Doha, the war in Yemen and the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

The regional powerhouse had invited Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to attend the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council talks, but the foreign ministry in Doha said he will not go.

Instead Qatar will be represented by the minister of state for foreign affairs, Sultan al-Muraikhi, it said.

Saudi Arabia, along with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, severed diplomatic ties with Doha in 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism and fostering close ties with their regional rival Iran.

Doha -- which announced this month it was quitting the Saudi-dominated OPEC oil cartel -- denies the allegations, but the dispute has dragged on.

"Qatar has burned all the bridges enabling it to take back" its place within the GCC, Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad Al-Khalifa said.

The GCC was formed in 1981 at the height of the Iraq-Iran war and two years after the Islamic revolution in Tehran sparked concern in Sunni-led Gulf states, many of which have sizable Shia populations, including in Bahrain.

GCC secretary general Abdullatif al-Zayani has said the 39th summit in Riyadh would review ties with Iran after the US re-imposed an oil embargo and other sanctions on Tehran.

The US has increased pressure on Riyadh to mend fences with Qatar as Washington wants Gulf states to present a united front against Iran.

No major announcements were expected to come out of yesterday's summit.

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