Kuwaiti foreign ministry official is hopeful that a two and a half year old rupture between Doha and three Gulf states will finally come to an end.
Gulf leaders are set to meet in the Saudi capital Riyadh on December 10 in what could be a breakthrough moment in the two-year-old dispute that has ruptured ties within the region.
The Gulf Cooperation Council summit comes amid a blockade of Qatar by three of the organisation’s six member states, including; Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain.
The trio, alongside Egypt, broke off ties with Qatar in June 2017 and issued a set of demands that included Doha’s cessation of support for opposition groups and the shutting down of Al Jazeera and other media networks.
After years of deadlock, there have been murmurs of a warming of ties in recent weeks. In late November, reports emerged that Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani had visited Riyadh.
The visit was followed by a Saudi decision to participate in the Arab Gulf Cup, which the country had previously boycotted. Riyadh even broke its own air blockade of Qatar when its players took a direct flight to Qatar from Saudi territory.
In Kuwait, whose leaders have long tried to mediate a resolution to the crisis, officials expressed optimism that the upcoming summit will draw a line under the episode.
Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled al Jarallah is reported to have told an audience at a national day celebration that he was optimistic that differences between “Gulf brothers” would be resolved.
Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al Khaled al Sabah reiterated the sentiment saying the meeting would be an important step in resolving the dispute, calling it a “milestone”.
The blockade of Qatar included land, sea, and air sanctions. Overnight, the land border between Qatar and Saudi Arabia was shut down, cutting off a vast majority of the country’s imports.
Qatar was immediately helped by allies such as Turkey, which increased exports to address the shortfall.
The country’s airlines also suffer as a result of an air blockade, which forbids ingoing and outgoing traffic destined for Qatar from making use of Emirati and Saudi airspace. The move meant planes had to take detours through friendly states that added hours to travel time.