Gulf rulers boycotting Qatar skip annual summit


Casting further doubt on the group's future, the UAE said on Tuesday it was forming a new military and economic committee with Saudi Arabia separate from the GCC.

Kuwait on Thursday invited Qatar to a summit of Gulf countries next week amid the existent Saudi-led diplomatic boycott of Doha.

Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) will set up a joint cooperation committee which will coordinate between the two sides in the field of military, politics, economy, trade, culture and other areas of mutual interest.

While official comment is yet to be issued by Saudi Arabia, the statement from the UAE announced the committee will be chaired by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the deputy prime minister and is effective immediately. While the UAE denies that a missile was sacked towards one of its nuclear plants, Saudi Arabia claimed its Patriot missile system successfully intercepted a Houthi missile, targeted at Riyadh airport.

After cutting off all ties with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and its allies imposed a land, sea and air blockade of the emirate and issued a list of 13 demands in order for it to be lifted.

The GCC, which was established in the early years of Iraqi imposed war on Iran (1980-88), has been passing through unprecedented crisis after June 5, when Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed their ties with Qatar.

The establishment of the new bloc comes as an unwelcomed surprise to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a 36-year-old political and economic organization that features Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar as well as Saudi Arabia and the UAE amongst its members. Qatar denies the allegations.

Gulf foreign ministers gathered Monday in Kuwait on the eve of the annual summit that will bring together Qatar and its feuding neighbours, despite little hope for an end to the bitter rift.

Oman's foreign minister, Yussef bin Alawi, sat between them at the meeting which the foreign ministers of the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait also attended.

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In October, Bahrain called for Qatar's membership of the GCC to be suspended until it accepted the demands.

State television showed Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah receiving Jubeir at the airport as the head of the kingdom's delegation.

"Most people in the GCC have been very vocal about their opinions of the Gulf crisis on social media but they were nearly unanimous in their praise for the efforts of the Kuwaiti leadership in recent months to resolve the crisis", Tahir explained.

"As long as our enemy has changed from Iran to Qatar, the GCC will not continue".

The Gulf states' trade relations with the United Kingdom - now worth more than $40bn annually - will be crucial after it leaves the European Union in 2019.

"If the GCC is not working, we'll have to look at what is doable bilaterally".

Although, the Council has formally approved the creation of a common market, a single currency and a customs union, few of these measures are being implemented, as its members can not agree on how to institutionalize these radical reforms.

"The GCC is a continuous project in which the will of member states meets to build a unified Gulf body", he said.