Qatari emir shuns PGCC summit in Saudi Arabia, sends foreign minister
Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Ale Thani has refused to participate in the annual Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) summit, which is set to take place in the Saudi capital city of Riyadh at the weekend, and instead sent the foreign minister to attend the event.
“Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan al-Muraikhi arrived in Riyadh to lead the delegation of Qatar to the PGCC summit,” director of information office at the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed al-Rumaihi, wrote in a post published on Twitter on Sunday.
Bahrain's Foreign Minister Sheih Khalid bin Ahmed Ale Khalifah, in return, criticized Qatar's emir in a tweet for not attending the regional grouping’s summit.
“Qatar's emir should have accepted the fair demands (of the boycotting states) and attended the summit,” Sheikh Khalid wrote in his tweet.
The official Qatar News Agency said in a tweet on December 3 that the monarch had got “an invitation from the King of Saudi Arabia” for the meeting, but it did not say whether Sheikh Tamim would travel to Saudi Arabia.
The Arabic language Al Aan Online newspaper, citing diplomatic sources, reported late last month that Secretary General of the PGCC Abdul Latif bin Rashid al-Zayani was going to visit Doha to invite the Qatari emir to attend the 39th annual summit of the regional grouping.
Last month, Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled al-Jarallah confirmed that all six PGCC countries would be attending the annual summit of the council, which is set to take place on December 9.
Jarallah said the summit could present a “hope to resolve the [Persian] Gulf crisis and solve the differences.”
The report came as a surprise since Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, has been embroiled in a diplomatic and trade boycott against Qatar for a year and a half.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt all cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5 last year, after officially accusing it of “sponsoring terrorism.”
The administration of the Saudi-backed and former Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Libya, the Maldives, Djibouti, Senegal and the Comoros later joined the camp in ending diplomatic ties with Doha. Jordan downgraded its diplomatic relations as well.
Qatar's Foreign Ministry later announced that the decision to cut diplomatic ties was unjustified and based on false claims and assumptions.
On June 9, 2017, Qatar strongly dismissed allegations of supporting terrorism after the Saudi regime and its allies blacklisted dozens of individuals and entities purportedly associated with Doha.
Later that month, Saudi Arabia and its allies released a 13-point list of demands, including the closure of Al Jazeera television network and downgrade of relations with Iran, in return for the normalization of diplomatic relations with Doha.
The document containing the demands by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain also asked Qatar to sever all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement.
Qatar rejected the demands as "unreasonable."