Press TV – Qatar’s foreign minister has called the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) a “toothless” organization incapable of holding its members to account.
“They have mechanisms in place and never trigger them because some countries believe they are non-binding,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told the annual Doha Forum dialogue platform on Saturday.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and non-member Egypt all cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar in June last year, after officially accusing it of “sponsoring terrorism” which Doha has rejected.
Earlier in the week, Qatar’s emir turned down an invitation by Riyadh to partake in this year’s summit.
“We believe that we are more relevant as a bloc” than as separate and fragmented countries, Sheikh Mohammed said.
The GCC summit was held this year, with regional unity imperiled by a bitter row between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which is mired in a diplomatic crisis over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Qatar’s decision this month to quit OPEC after 57 years also appeared to be a swipe at the bloc’s de facto leader Saudi Arabia.
The 39th GCC summit ended, without any major breakthroughs to resolve diplomatic crises that continue to grip the region.
The Qatar crisis, being described by observers as the elephant in the room, was not brought up at the annual summit that concluded on Sunday.
The GCC, a political and economic alliance of countries in the Arabian Peninsula, was established in 1981 to foster socioeconomic, security, and cultural cooperation.
Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE gather every year to discuss cooperation and regional affairs.
While the Qatar crisis was not explicitly mentioned during the meeting, a call for unity was issued at the end of the gathering in a joint communique.
A Qatari foreign ministry spokesman blasted the communique on Twitter for not discussing or resolving the blockade.
Relations have also soured between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait over oil production from two jointly-run oilfields in the so-called Neutral Zone after talks in September failed to move the two countries closer to a deal.
Given last December’s summit in Kuwait was cut short, many questioned whether this year’s gathering would take place altogether. At the time, the UAE announced it had formed an economic and military partnership with Saudi Arabia separate from the GCC.
But in his opening remarks, Saudi King Salman noted that the objective of the gathering was to set up a coordination council and to adopt a strategy for economic, development and military integration.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Arab countries were in talks with Washington regarding a new NATO-style security agreement specifically aimed at Iran.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said the group had turned into a venue for promoting the policies of certain states.
“Saudi Arabia’s failure to achieve its goals at the meeting can be seen in the contradiction between the text of the communique and the practical approach taken by some members towards the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said.