GCC summit to convene despite Qatar crisis

A senior Kuwaiti official confirmed that the meeting would take place on December 5 and 6 but said the level of representation was not yet clear

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA- May 21, 2017: (R-L) HRH Prince Mohamed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Crown Prince, second Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Defence of Saudi Arabia, HRH Prince Salman Bin Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifah Crown Prince and First Deputy Supreme Commander of Bahrain, HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, HM King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain, HRH Prince Mohamed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Interior of Saudi Arabia, HE Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud Al Said, Deputy Prime Minster of Oman, HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani Emir of Qatar, HH Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, Emir of Kuwait and HE Dr Abdullatif Al Zayani, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), stand for a photograph during the 17th GCC Consultative summit in Riyadh.

( Hamad Al Kaabi / Crown Prince Court - Abu Dhabi )
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An annual summit of heads of state of the GCC countries will convene in Kuwait next week despite the rift between some of the countries and Qatar.

A senior Kuwaiti official on Wednesday confirmed the meeting would take place on December 5 and 6 but said the level of representation was not yet clear.

It is not known if Qatar will attend the summit, but local newspapers reported that officials in Kuwait are preparing for all representatives to be present.

The Kuwaiti ministry of interior is placing all security forces on standby beginning next week – a procedure that commonly precedes major events in the Kuwaiti capital, a source told The National.

The summit, if attended by both sides of the ongoing rift, will be the first official meeting between Qatar and its three Gulf neighbours – Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain – that cut diplomatic ties with Doha on June 5 over allegations it supports and harbours extremists. Egypt also severed relations with Qatar at the same time.

Event organisers said plans are still in motion to prepare for the summit.

Many look to the meeting as the best chance for resolving the row as the host country's ruler, Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al Ahmed, has played the role of chief mediator in what will be a six-month old crisis by next week..

“We are not a party in this, we are one part of two brothers,” he said last month at the opening of Kuwait’s National Assembly. “Despite our hopes and desires, the crisis carries with it the possibility for development and we must be fully aware of the risks of escalation.”

However, Bahrain said in October that it will refuse to attend the summit if Doha does not change its policies and urged the other countries to suspend Qatar's 35-year membership of the GCC.

Earlier reports had indicated the GCC summit might be postponed for six months so that disputes could be resolved and tensions eased between the Gulf states.

Two Gulf diplomats also said Kuwait, which had led unsuccessful mediation efforts between the two sides, would again try to use the meeting to resolve the rift.

The crisis, which began in June, saw Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut all ties with Doha over its support of terrorism and its attempts to undermine the stability of its neighbours. Doha denies the accusations.

Qatar says the four countries are trying to force Doha to fall in line with their own foreign policy views.