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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 21-Nov-2014
21-Nov-14 World View -- Gulf nations paper over their differences for GCC Summit in December

Web Log - November, 2014

21-Nov-14 World View -- Gulf nations paper over their differences for GCC Summit in December

Egypt may be considering release of al-Jazeera reporters

This morning's key headlines from

Gulf nations paper over their differences for GCC Summit in December

GCC Summit meeting in 2009
GCC Summit meeting in 2009

Saudi Arabia has managed to mediate a reconciliation among the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that very publicly and vitriolicly split in March of this year, when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatar after a stormy GCC meeting. This year's GCC annual summit was originally scheduled for November 10, but was postponed to December 9-10. Now, the three countries had agreed to put their differences aside, at least until the end of the summit meeting, and return their ambassadors to Qatar.

Since the GCC was formed in 1981, there have always been differences between the individual countries, but until the explosion earlier this year, they were carefully hidden from the public. The trigger that raised tensions among the countries was the army coup, in July 2013, that ousted Egypt's president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government. Qatar supports the Muslim Brotherhood, or at least is neutral towards it, and supported Morsi with billions of dollars in aid, and Qatar opposes the presidency of former army general Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi. Saudi Arabia and UAE support al-Sisi with billions of dollars of aid, and consider the Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist organization.

Relations between Qatar and Egypt have been further complicated because Qatar is the home of al-Jazeera, which reported on the bloody army crackdown on protesters following the coup. Egypt got revenge by jailing three al-Jazeera reporters, who remain in jail to this day, and have given sentences of 7-10 years.

As I've written several times, there has been a major Mideast realignment following the Gaza war, bringing Israel plus Egypt plus Saudi Arabia in alliance versus Hamas plus Qatar plus Turkey. This was, and continues to be, a sharp and bitter division.

So now, in the last few weeks, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia says that these differences have all been resolved. That's not particularly credible. The GCC Summit on December 9-10 may be extremely stormy, and another bitter split may go beyond shouting to violence. Asharq Al Awsat (Riyadh) and Reuters

United Arab Emirates identifies 86 terrorist groups

One sign that sharp differences remain is that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced a list, controversial in the Arab world, naming 86 organizations that it considers to be terrorist. Some are uncontroversial, such as the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL), Jabhat al-Nusra, the Taliban, Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and Al-Qaeda on the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Also named were Iran-supported groups, including the Houthis in Yemen, and Hezbollah's affiliates in the Gulf states -- though not Hezbollah's main branch in Lebanon, considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the West.

But two Qatari-supported groups, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Union of Muslim Scholars in Qatar are named.

Hamas was not named.

Within the United States, the most controversial selection will be the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Also included are the Muslim Association of Britain and the Islamic Relief Organisation in London.

Some Muslim analysts complain that the inclusion of these organizations fosters Islamophobia in the U.S. and Britain. According to Anas al-Tikriti, the former president of the Muslim Association of Britain, the terrorist list is "beyond ludicrous":

"The fact that it piles together terrorist groups like Boko Haram and IS with think tanks and research centers who arenít involved in political work and who espouse democratic principles belies any kind of rationality or logic.

Some of these organizations represent tens of thousands of people. Does the UAE mean to suggest there are tens of thousands of terrorists throughout the world from America, to Europe, to Africa?"

The National (UAE) and Middle East Eye and Gulf News - complete list and Al-Jazeera

Egypt may be considering release of al-Jazeera reporters

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has been encouraging Egypt to fix its strained relations with Qatar, and one consequence is that Egypt's president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi may be considering releasing the three al-Jazeera journalists. In an interview with France24, al-Sisi said:

[At the time of the journalistsí arrests, I] did not have the power to take decisions about their situation. If I were president at that time, I would have decided, for the good and the security of Egypt, that the journalists would have to be expelled, so [it would] put an end to this issue once and for all."

Al-Sisi has said things like this before, but this time, when asked whether he intends to issue a presidential pardon, he said:

"Let me just say, this issue is currently under discussion so that we may find a solution."

This indicates, for the first time, that some kind of negotiation is going on that might result in the release of the reporters. The reporters' fates may be in the hands of the GCC negotiations, and particularly any possible reconciliation between Egypt and Qatar. France 24 and Al-Jazeera

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Nov-14 World View -- Gulf nations paper over their differences for GCC Summit in December thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Nov-2014) Permanent Link
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