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A very serious Gulf crisis

Jun 13,2017 - Last updated at Jun 13,2017

The last thing the Arab world needed at this very critical period of its history is a new and a very serious crisis hitting hard at the heart of the Gulf region.

Not only because the nearly five-decade-old Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) had been steadily moving in the direction of closer Gulf states’ ties, if not all out unification, but also because that part of the Arab region remained relatively stable while most of the rest is struggling with internal strife, civil wars, political disputes and conflicts.

The inter-Arab conflicts are many.

During the last four decades, Arab states went to war against each other. The factional fighting that has been violently raging for years in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Iraq has deepened Arab divisions, with several states taking sides with this faction or the other, thus continuing to pour oil on the fire.

And apart from the active wars, there are many silent, though chronic, inter-Arab disputes that have been poisoning Arab relations since the days Arab states got their independence.

It is a miracle that the Arab League managed to survive such troubling circumstances.

Perhaps the best answer is the league’s ability to adjust to the shifting relations by reducing its role to a mere umbrella, a title and a loose framework that does not require much from its members.

That explains the deadly Arab League silence with respect to the sudden outbreak of the crisis between Qatar and its Gulf neighbours.

To be fair, though, the league is its members, and in the absence of adequate agreement amongst them, on major issues at least, it is unrealistic to expect much from the club within which their membership is becoming a mere non-committal formality.

Within such a context, the recent Gulf crisis should not be seen as out of the ordinary.

Yes, there have been contentious issues within the GCC member states, and that can happen in any regional organisation. It happens between EU states, the Organisation of African Unity, the Latin American Group and others.

What is unusual this time, however, is the instant resort to quite excessive measures before giving diplomacy any chance to deal with the controversies in the usual cordial, rather than rigid, confrontational, ways.

The other abnormality is extending the scope of the dispute to the direct interests and to the immediate needs of the citizens.

The time for ultimatums in international relations is long over. Ultimatums block the way to reconciliation and prematurely harden what otherwise could be flexible positions.

They help neither side and often make a bad situation worse, because they imply humiliation rather than considerate understanding of adversaries’ right to dignity.

Putting one GCC member suddenly under siege is by any standards a harsh measure.

The situation did not require that much of urgency. Any issues with Qatar could have been discussed, and most likely resolved, within the Gulf family and within the GCC statutes.

It is a promising sign that the dispute, though still serious, did not escalate as fast as many have feared; certainly not in the direction of a different kind of confrontation.

For the second time in a year, the emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, moved fast to handle the issue.

The hope is that his initiative this time will meet the same success it did last time when a crisis erupted between Saudi Arabia and Qatar for almost similar reasons.

That will be in the interest of all parties in and outside the Gulf.

As said, the Gulf region, with Jordan, is the only remaining stable part of the vast Arab world. 

There will be no winners if such stability is threatened, let alone if the existing stability is interrupted by another unnecessary confrontation.

Wars and conflicts have been burning much of the Arab national wealth, wealth that could have been earmarked for development, that could have changed the entire Arab region into one of the most advanced and prosperous areas on the surface of this earth.

If that had been the case, most of the extremist organisations, the terrorists, the nihilists who are committed to destroying every existing order anywhere, would not have found proper ground for them to spread and prosper.

Chaos has occurred at a very high cost, consuming much of Arab national potential.

Chaos created the right environment for the rise of terror and terrorist organisations, which has also been at a very high cost.

We all now, wealthy or not, have to cope with the dreadful outcomes, and that may delay any prospects of development even further.

 

That is why we do not need another crisis at our doorstep. We should do all we can to help the parties overcome the family dispute and restore their unity.

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Comments

EXCELLENT ARTICLE AND I AM VERY GRATEFUL TO HASAN ABU NIMAH FOR LETTING THE ARAB WORLD KNOW THAT THEY DO HAVE A VERY SERIOUS PROBLEMS BECAUSE THEY HAVE MANAGERS AND NOT LEADERS. THEY ACT MORE LIKE MANAGERS THAT TAKES ORDERS FROM THEIR CEO'S. THE PEOPLE IN THAT REGION MUST SPEAK OUT FOR PEACE RATHER THAN ALWAYS BEING EQUATED TO CHAOS, TERROR AND DICTATORSHIP. THE FACT IS THAT WHAT I HAVE JUST SAID IS NEITHER TRUE NOR REPRESENT ANY LEADER THAT I KNOW FROM THAT REGION BECAUSE THE ISSUE IS NOT PERSONALITY BUT CHEMISTRY AND IF SO WHAT AND WHY IS THE ARAB LEAGUE FORMED.

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