Why was the Riyadh Gulf Summit a success?


The recently concluded 39th Session of the Supreme Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states was not just a routine meeting of Gulf leaders. I was present at the summit venue, and I am sure it was not just a meeting aimed at showing that the GCC was alive. On the contrary, the Riyadh Summit, chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, provided the best proof that Qatar’s harmful practices had not weakened the Council, as was claimed by Doha and two of its loyal allies -Tehran and Ankara.

The summit meeting was held at a time when the Gulf and the region are facing many challenges and serious security threats. There is a grave challenge in the form of Iranian interference in the internal affairs of other countries in the region, along with attempts by the Iranian regime to penetrate into Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain through its Houthi militias based in Yemen as well as its agents and fifth columns.

The most serious challenge, of which many countries around the world are suffering, is terrorism, which is evident in various forms and manifestations. These include extremism that involves brainwashing and carrying out acts of violence and destruction, such as triggering bomb blasts and labeling people as infidels. There are also hardliners with a vested interest in creating chaos in countries that enjoy stability. The leading groups among them are the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoot terrorist organizations, including Al-Qaeda, Daesh (the self-proclaimed IS), and those groups that are known under different names in Asian and African countries, such as Hezbollah of Lebanon and Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi of Iraq.

The Riyadh Gulf Summit was not simply an occasion to take commemorative group photos of the leaders. It examined important issues, the foremost of which was the completion of the GCC march forward, with the active participation of all parties, except the Hamadain regime, so as to upgrade joint work and cooperation into overall integration and unity. This includes the completion of ongoing giant projects, such as the Gulf Railway project linking the GCC states, the issue of the Customs Union and the establishment of the GCC Common Market. The Gulf leaders have also adopted a number of regulations aimed at unifying the legal system in GCC states. The Riyadh Declaration, adopted by Gulf leaders at the end of the summit, speaks about various aspects of this.

The boycott of Qatar was not a priority topic of discussion for the summit, which considered it a very small issue though one which might backfire and lead to the destruction of the Qatari regime. The leaders did not discuss the dispute with Doha at any level because the four countries that support combating terrorism recently reiterated that Qatar must implement the 13 conditions put forward by these countries, which includes halting its support for terrorism as well as for those inciting anarchy and destruction. The last call in this regard was made during talks between Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo during the latest round of the Crown Prince’s Arab regional tour.

The declaration of the Crown Prince and President Sisi closed the door for any international mediation to restore diplomatic relations with Qatar. The solution for the Qatar row will remain with Riyadh and within the Gulf House. It is also to be pointed out in this regard that Qatar interferes in the internal affairs of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait, which is unforgiveable. Qatar is supposed to be keen on the security of these states instead of acting as a tool to destabilize them.

Kuwait Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who attended the Riyadh summit, is a capable leader who witnessed the extent of the obstinacy of Qatar, which rejected the call for it to abandon interventionist policies and stop hosting terrorist groups that attempt to undermine the stability of the Gulf and Arab states.

The Riyadh Summit was another success for the diplomacy of King Salman, and the solid fundamentals of his foreign policy which adhere to the firm Saudi stance with regard to the Palestinian issue, the peaceful resolution of the crisis in Yemen and Syria, as well as the keenness to establish strategic relations with Iraq. King Salman’s speech on Iranian threats at the summit was sincere in highlighting the challenge facing GCC states, including Qatar, which has virtually surrendered to Iran and Turkey for the sake of manipulating and punishing Gulf leaders. In fact, Doha has yielded its sovereignty to Iranian-Turkish control.

Iran seeks the restoration of its lost empire and its expansion at the expense of Gulf states. After failing to ignite sectarian strife in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Kuwait, it decided to invade Yemen using its client Abdul Malik Al-Houthi along with the support of the Lebanese Hezbollah, thinking that Yemen would be its entry point for undermining the security and stability of Gulf states. But Saudi Arabia’s policy was quick in joining hands with its sister countries to form an Arab Coalition for the Restoration of Legitimacy in Yemen, which frustrated the Iranians.

It is certain that meeting current challenges and security issues is of paramount importance. Despite this, the completion of the march toward GCC cooperation and integration is also a matter of prime concern for Gulf leaders. This integration of the Gulf states will eventually create an effective economic bloc that occupies a vital position in the global economy, especially with regard to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain. This march cannot be delayed or postponed. Similarly, there should not be any negligence on security issues facing the GCC countries in the wake of the critical conditions prevailing in the region.

The author is a Saudi writer. Follow him on Twitter: @JameelAlTheyabi