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Qatar Says Kuwait Trying to Solve Diplomatic Rift

Kuwait is trying to play the role of mediator between disarrayed Arab countries amid heightening tensions, with some warning of the possibility of a military confrontation
The leaders of the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council member states attend the 37th (P)GCC Summit in Manama, Bahrain, held in Dec. 2016. (File Photo)The leaders of the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council member states attend the 37th (P)GCC Summit in Manama, Bahrain, held in Dec. 2016. (File Photo)

Kuwait is trying to mediate a regional crisis in which Arab countries have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and moved to isolate the energy-rich, travel-hub nation from the outside world, Qatar’s foreign minister said.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed diplomatic relations with Qatar on Monday in a coordinated move, accusing the peninsula of supporting “terrorists”, Aljazeera reported.

The Maldives and Libya’s out-of-mandate Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni later joined the Arab nations in saying they too would cut ties.

Sanctions include shutting down transport links, including closing borders, airspace and maritime territories, which led to fears of supply shortages.

In an interview on Monday with Aljazeera, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said Kuwait’s ruler, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, had asked Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatar’s ruling emir, to hold off on giving a speech about the crisis late on Tuesday night.

“He received a call from the emir of Kuwait asking him to postpone it in order to give time to solve the crisis,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

Sheikh Sabah called on Qatar’s ruler to focus on easing tension and advised against making decisions that could escalate the situation, Kuwait state news agency Kuna said.

Still, the Qatari foreign minister struck a defiant tone, saying his nation rejected those trying to impose their will or intervene in its internal affairs.

  Question Mark Over Future of (P)GCC

Sheikh Mohammed said on Tuesday in an interview with Aljazeera that “we expressed our regrets and surprise over the escalations against Qatar. We don’t know if there were real reasons behind this crisis or hidden ones that we don’t know about.”

He also said that if there were real reasons for this crises, it could have been discussed at the (P)GCC meeting that took place a few weeks ago, but nothing had been said or discussed at all.

“Also, nothing was said during the American-Islamic-Arab summit in Riyadh. So there was nothing said at these events and Qatar had no indication that the crisis was about to erupt,” he added.

“So this shows that the Saudi and UAE-funded media fabricated news against Qatar and made up lies about it.”

 Kuwait, Oman Fear Escalation

Analyst Giorgio Cafiero of Gulf State Analytics, a geopolitical risk consultancy based in Washington, DC, told Aljazeera: “I think the Kuwaitis as well as Omanis ... fear the prospects of these tensions escalating in ways which could undermine the interest of all six members of the [P]GCC. There are many analysts who believe that a potential breakup of the [P]GCC has to be considered right now.”

He added that if tension escalates, some have warned of a “military confrontation”.

“If these countries fail to resolve their issues and such tensions reach new heights, we have to be very open to the possibility of these six Arab countries no longer being able to unite under the banner of one council,” said Cafiero.

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