Gulf Arab leaders will assemble on Tuesday for the annual GCC summit, which is anticipated to emphasize togetherness at a time when the region is concerned about Iran.
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Gulf countries ahead of the meeting, which comes almost a year after Riyadh ended a three-and-a-half-year Arab blockade of Qatar, which had broken the US-allied Gulf Cooperation Council.
Saudi Arabia and non-Gulf Egypt have reestablished diplomatic ties with Doha, but the UAE and Bahrain have yet to do so, though Abu Dhabi has taken steps to heal wounds.
“I must confess that there are certain sectors that will require some time, but I mean practical, functional (Gulf) collaboration is back on track,” top UAE official Anwar Gargash said last week.
According to Saudi media, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s journey aims to demonstrate togetherness as world powers strive to resurrect a nuclear deal with Iran, despite growing Gulf skepticism about the US’s role in the area.
Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran are involved in a battle for influence that has played out in events such as Yemen’s conflict and in Lebanon, where Iran-backed Hezbollah’s increasing clout has strained Beirut’s Gulf connections.
Concerned about Iran’s nuclear goals, missile program, and regional proxies, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi are working with Tehran to defuse tensions.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have shifted from militant foreign policies that saw them intervene in Yemen and boycott Qatar to a more conciliatory stance as they compete for international investment and the support of US President Joe Biden.
After developing links with Israel last year, Abu Dhabi has moved quicker to heal wounds with Iran and Turkey, while also re-engaging with Syria.