Every Thursday, we bring you the latest updates on the blockade and GCC Crisis. Here's what happened last week: GCC Crisis Updates Week 180.
Jared Kushner, senior adviser to United States President Donald Trump who also happens to be Trump's son-in-law, was in Qatar meeting with His Highness The Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani yesterday. He has since left Qatar, but sources believe that Qatar and Saudi Arabia are quite close to making a preliminary agreement that could lead to the end of the GCC Crisis that has been ongoing for almost three and a half years, according to Al Jazeera.
Kushner was visiting Saudi Arabia and Qatar in the hopes of finding a solution to the blockade while US President Donald Trump still remains in the White House till the beginning of 2021.
The New York Times has reported that while meeting with the H.H. The Amir, Kushner talked about the possibility of reopening Saudi airspace for Qatar flights which since the GCC Crisis began in 2017, have rerouted and now use Iranian airspace.
In its article, The New York Times also commented that:
"It would also starve Iran of what diplomats described as an estimated $100 million in annual fees that Qatar has paid to fly through its airspace — money that is nourishing Iran’s battered economy and, according to officials, allows Tehran’s leaders to more easily finance military programs that the Trump administration views as a threat."
Kushner did not visit the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on this tour, and this may signal the possibility that UAE is not ready yet to come to the negotiating table, so whether or not they open up their airspace again to Qatar is yet to be seen. (The New York Times)
Jared Kushner was in Saudi Arabia on Monday to try to end the GCC Crisis during the last few weeks of President Trump's administration, according to Al Jazeera.
Observers believe that Kushner is probably trying to achieve some kind of movement in the Qatar blockade in light of the US Presidency's Middle East Policy
"which has been defined by advancing Israeli interests and applying maximum pressure against Iran (Al Jazeera)."
In fact, William Lawrence, an American University lecturer and a former senior Department of State official under the administration of US President Barack Obama, told Al Jazeera, that the team visiting the Gulf with Kushner includes Middle East envoys Brian Hook and Avi Berkowitz, and US International Development Finance Corporation Chief Executive Adam Boehler, and this team is the one that has been working on normalising ties between Israel and the Gulf countries and trying to isolate Iran– have been working primarily on Israeli normalisation agreements and isolating Iran.
Lawrence told Al Jazeera, that they are not:
“people who’ve been working on the Gulf crisis.”
Kushner and his team will be in Qatar later this week to hold talks with H.H. The Amir, as well as in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and in Kuwait to meet with the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah later in this week. One of the main goals of this trip is to try to get the GCC countries - Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain - to end the over three-year blockade of Qatar, as per Al Jazeera.
The US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien's remarks about the Gulf crisis, in which he said, "We want to settle the Gulf conflict," sparked speculation that the Trump administration could resolve the crisis between the four countries and Qatar before he left the White House on 20 January 2021, based on a report in Al-Sharq.
Based on O'Brien's 70-day opportunity, Steve Clemons, told the World Security Forum on 16 November 2020, that
"it is possible to achieve the step of opening the skies to Qatari aviation with the Gulf states during the remaining 70 days of trump's presidency (reduced to less than two months) (Al-Sharq)."
The US official confirmed that
"the people of the Gulf are cousins, and Trump has made intensive contacts to resolve the Gulf crisis, lift the embargo on Qatar, and expressed his wish to see Qatari planes cross Saudi and UAE airspace before he leaves office (Al-Sharq)."
The statement prompted observers like The Eastern Mediterranean Forum for Political and Strategic Studies, Mohamed Hamed, to say that
"Trump will end the Gulf crisis as he began it so as not to give a trump point to president-elect Joe Biden's new administration (Al-Sharq)."
On the same day that the US national security adviser on the Gulf Crisis, H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani, Qatar's Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State, spoke of a significant momentum from the Trump administration on the matter.
"Qatar is open to dialogue from the beginning, and we have good intentions to have a constructive dialogue, and there is no winner or loser from the crisis (Al-Sharq)".
What are your thoughts on these latest developments in the ongoing GCC Crisis? Drop us a line and tell us your thoughts in the comments below, and don’t forget to like and share this article.
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