Overcoming a years-long feud, the GCC countries have come together in the ancient Saudi city of Al Ula for signing a reconciliation agreement between Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain on one hand, and Qatar on the other; announcing a new chapter of diplomatic relations between the regional neighbors.
As leaders of all six GCC countries headed to Al Ula summit, which also hosted a number of international figures, most notably the US president's senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner, all eyes were on the airplane that carried the Emir of Qatar, whose visit marks the end of the regional drift that has lasted almost 4 years.
The Saudi crown prince welcomed his former rival as he got off the plane with a warm hug witnessed by international media, only hours after the Kuwaiti mediator announced an end to the political crisis in the 40-year old organization.
Additionally, media outlets reported a trip across the Saudi desert taken by the two young princes, whose dispute was very heated for years. The Saudi de facto ruler Prince Mohammad Bin Salman also accompanied Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani through Al Ula's old city, as photos showed the two men getting along and laughing throughout their tour.
According to the agreement mediated by Kuwait, the dispute that started in May 2017 has been resolved, despite a lack of details over whether the GCC countries will stick to the 13 conditions formerly set by Saudi and the UAE to end the crisis.
Gargash: I'm very optimistic but it will take time to heal after Qatar feud The UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, tells Becky Anderson about a new beginning as Arab countries agree to end a years-long feud with Qa... https://t.co/UZu9xyLMVG #Video #USRC pic.twitter.com/NA5z9Iz0sx— Top U.S. & World News? (@USRealityCheck) January 5, 2021
In 2007, Saudi Arabia and its regional allies including Egypt cut all diplomatic and business ties with Qatar, including airspace travel, following statements posted by the official Qatari media against Saudi Arabia and UAE leaders.
Back then, Qatar had argued that its official news agency's website was under a cyberattack. Moreover, Qatar has always been criticized by other GCC countries for its close ties with Iran.
Last November, multiple media reports linked the 2017 rift with Donald Trump's visit to the region, especially after Business Insider cited a document in which a Trump advisor seemed to plan a pressure campaign against Qatar in February 2017.
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