Is GCC spat over Qatar finally over?

For the sake of unity

A spat over Qatar's alleged support for the Muslim Brotherhood that alienated other members of the six-country Gulf Cooperation Council appears to have been resolved because of major regional challenges.
Possible concessions by Doha may also have paved the way to overcoming the unprecedented dispute.
After a surprise mini-summit late Sunday in Riyadh, the leaders of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain agreed to return their ambassadors to Doha, eight months after withdrawing them in protest at gas-rich Qatar's "interference" in their affairs.
Sunday's reconciliation, which means the annual GCC summit will now go ahead as planned in Doha next month, comes amid security fears over the rise of radical jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq.
Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have all joined a US-led coalition against Islamist insurgents in Syria. Oman is the only GCC member not to have done so.
"What is important now is that the worst crisis to hit the GCC in its 33 years of existence is over," Emirati political science professor Abdulkhaleq Abdulla said.
Qatar was accused of destabilising the region by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood -- branded a "terrorist" organisation by Saudi Arabia and the UAE -- and other Islamist groups, notably in Syria and Libya.
On Monday, Qatar's foreign ministry hailed the outcome of the summit, including the decision to return the envoys to their posts.
It commended Saudi King Abdullah for his "keenness to achieve the needed success, which answers the expectations of the people of the Gulf countries," it said in a statement carried by QNA state news agency.
It also thanked Kuwait's emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, for his mediation efforts.
- 'Major commitments' -
Manama, where a Shiite majority has squared up against a ruling Sunni Muslim dynasty, has accused Doha of naturalising Bahraini Sunnis, a move that could eventually exacerbate the kingdom's demographic imbalance.
In a bid to defuse the crisis, "Qatar must have made major commitments... after a period of hesitation and procrastination," Abdulla said.
The GCC has not given details of the agreement or any Qatari concessions.
Kuwaiti political analyst Ayed al-Manaa pointed out that Doha has already "taken measures to meet the demands of its partners, such as asking some people linked to the Muslim Brotherhood to leave Qatar".
In what was seen as a goodwill gesture to fellow GCC members, Doha in September asked several exiled Brotherhood leaders to leave the country.
"Qatar also seems to have agreed to stop naturalising or welcoming citizens" of other Gulf states who are wanted by their governments, Manaa said.
However, he noted that the editorial line of the influential Doha-based Al-Jazeera satellite news channel, accused of bias in favour of Islamists, remains largely unchanged.
The Brotherhood is viewed by several Gulf monarchies as a threat to their rule because of its grassroots political advocacy and calls for Islamic governance.
- Added impetus -
Resolving the GCC crisis was given added impetus by the rise of Islamic State group (IS) extremists in Syria and Iraq, which borders Saudi Arabia.
Since Qatar's regional and international influence rose in the late 1990s, the energy-rich US ally has been regularly accused of supporting or financing insurgent movements.
The UAE on Saturday issued a list of 83 Islamist groups it classified as "terrorist organisations", among them the Qatar-based International Union of Muslim Scholars headed by the Brotherhood's spiritual guide Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a Qatari of Egyptian origin.
In September, Qatar's emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani denied that Doha was funding extremists in Syria, while stressing his commitment to the US-led campaign against IS.
Washington is also likely to have urged GCC leaders to bury the hatchet, said another analyst, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The GCC statement said the accord "promises the opening of a new page... especially in light of the sensitive circumstances the region is undergoing".
Kuwaiti analyst Manaa said: "Qatar would never sacrifice its GCC membership" which is "more important than its ties with the Muslim Brotherhood".