Agadir – Morocco has expressed satisfaction with this week’s Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting, applauding the council for ending the lingering Riyadh-Doha standoff and embracing regional solidarity.
Established in 1981, the GCC is a political and economic union of Arab states located in the Persian Gulf. The council consists of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, and Bahrain.
The 41st GCC summit was held in Saudi Arabia’s Al Ula region, concluding on January 5, 2021. The summit mainly discussed reestablishing diplomatic ties between Qatar and its neighbors.
In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt severed ties with Qatar after accusing it of supporting radical Islamist groups. The four countries, which became known as the Saudi-led coalition, imposed a regional embargo on Doha, severing all diplomatic ties and transport links.
Since then, relations with Qatar have been a major point of contention in the region, with the rivalry further destabilizing a fragile MENA region and undermining Gulf solidarity.
The Al-Ula declaration
In this week’s summit, GCC member states spoke emphatically about preserving regional solidarity and stability.
As well as ending the four-year-long rift between Qatar and the Saudi-led coalition, the GCC pledged to “encourage joint projects” and “mutual trust between governments and their peoples.”
In the face of COVID-19-induced crises and other “emerging challenges,” argued the summit’s final declaration, GCC countries should aim “to achieve security, peace, stability, and prosperity in the region by working as a single, unified economic and political group and contribute.”
Echoing the Al-Ula declaration, Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry announced its decision to restore full ties with Qatar.
“All the outstanding [issues], whether returning of diplomatic relations, flights, will go back to normal,” Saudi foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told reporters.
Morocco and the GCC
With the embargo against Qatar lifted, and other positive developments in diplomacy amongst the Gulf members, Morocco has expressed “ hope that these developments constitute the beginning for the reunification and the establishment of mutual trust as well as for overcoming this crisis in order to consolidate the unity within the Gulf family.”
The GCC sees Morocco as an important ally, as evidenced by their calls for cooperation over the years.
When the Saudi-led coalition declared its Qatar blockade, Morocco sent humanitarian aid to the region. Refusing to pick sides, the North African country opted for “constructive neutrality” instead, even attempting at times to mediate between the two camps.
A number of Gulf observers applauded Morocco for its neutrality, with the media in Qatar describing King Mohammed VI as the “blockade breaker.”
In recent years, diplomatic ties between the GCC and Morocco reached a new milestone with the Gulf leaders’ continued support for Morocco’s territorial integrity.