News Analysis: Reconciliation deal with Qatar "intent test" for Doha's earnestness: Egyptian experts

Source: Xinhua| 2021-01-06 05:58:11|Editor: huaxia

by Mahmoud Fouly

CAIRO, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- As the Saudi-led quartet signed at a Gulf Arab summit on Tuesday a reconciliation deal with Qatar after more than three years of rift, Egyptian analysts believe the deal is positive for Arab unity and stability, yet it acts like an "intent test" awaiting for Qatari positive stances to prove earnestness in the coming stage.

The quartet comprising Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Qatar in early June 2017, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism and interfering in their internal affairs, charges that Qatar has always denied.

Through the agreement, signed in Al-Ula city northwestern Saudi Arabia during the 41st Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit, the Arab quartet hopes to win Qatar on their side in a bid to limit the regional expansion of Iran and Turkey and stop Doha's alleged support for extremist groups challenging the four states.


"I believe that the quartet has agreed that it will be semi-reconciliation or an intent test to see if Qatar will implement the conditions previously offered by the four Arab states," said Motaz Salama, head of Arab and Regional Studies Unit at Cairo-based Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies (ACPSS).

The Egyptian expert said that it might take months or more to find out whether Qatar will prove earnestness through giving up alleged support for terror groups, interference in Arab countries' domestic affairs and assistance of Iranian and Turkish regional expansion.

"The quartet states have offered many concessions with regards to reconciliation with Qatar in favor of the greater interest of the Arab and Gulf regions," Salama told Xinhua.

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani attended the GCC summit, where host Saudi Arabia was represented by its crown prince and Bahrain by his counterpart, the UAE by its vice president, Oman by its deputy prime minister and Egypt by its foreign minister.

Kuwait, the key mediator that has been working hard on the breakthrough, was represented by its Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

"With regards to formalities, the quartet's level of representation implies rejection of Qatar's former attitudes and that the four states are waiting for positive actions from Qatar not mere words and apparent reconciliation," Salama said.

The ACPSS expert also described the Saudi decision to open airspace with Qatar after a three-year blockade as "a very big progress."

After Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry signed Al-Ula agreement, his ministry issued a statement stressing the necessity to build on this important step to boost relations among Arab countries "based on good intentions and non-interference in others' internal affairs."

Saeed Okasha, a researcher at the Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies (ECSS), echoed Salama's opinion that the current stage is more like a test whose result depends on Qatar's changing attitudes after reconciliation.

"It is clearly shown in the statement of Egypt's foreign ministry that based the move on 'good intentions' and considered it a beginning step to build on," Okasha told Xinhua.

It is more like a "wait-and-see" test so far, according to Okasha, who is also an ACPSS expert.

He said Qatar's Al-Jazeera TV network is accused of having been lashing out at the quartet states and it will be clear in the next few months if this attitude will change.

The quartet will be satisfied if Qatar stops its alleged support for extremist groups and its media campaigns against them, which is more important for them than Doha's collaboration with Iran and Turkey, Okasha believes.

"I believe the issue of Iranian and Turkish expansion via Qatar is more international than regional," he pointed out.


Egypt expressed its appreciation of the mediation efforts made by Kuwait since the beginning of the crisis to reach the current reconciliation, and so did the other members of the quartet.

Kuwait's success in bringing both Riyadh and Doha to reconciliation enhances its role as an influential regional player, said Medhat Hammad, a professor of Iranian and Gulf studies at Egypt's Tanta University.

"Kuwait helped both Saudi Arabia and Qatar achieve what they have been wishing for," Hammad said.

He added that the Kuwaiti role has been highly respected by all parties of the reconciliation, adding that its successful mediation between Qatar and its boycotting quartet will maximize its status in the sight of regional powers including Turkey and Iran, Saudi Arabia's archrival.

"I even expect Kuwait to play a direct role in future resumption of ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran," the Egyptian professor told Xinhua. Enditem