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The future of Qatar and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) ties

Now that Qatar has rejected the 6 principles provided by the Arab states to end the blockade, it comes to be that their next plan of action will be to expel Qatar from the GCC although from the quartet Egypt is not part of the GCC.

The GCC is a union consisting of all Arab states of the Persian Gulf, except for Iraq. Its member are in a pact to maintain stability within these states’ regional intergovernmental political and economic areas together. The members are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

All GCC countries depend on stability in the oil and gas markets, which is evident from the recent OPEC deal. A full-fledged confrontation will, without any doubt, put pressure on the current compliance rate of OPEC members to production cuts.

Now Qatar has rejected both the 13 demands and the revised version now being the six principles, it seems as though the next step for the Arab states will be to remove Qatar from the GCC.

While the GCC has been hit by severe internal turmoil before, the current wave is particularly worrying. First of all, a divided GCC will bring further instability in the region at a time of full confrontation between the Saudi-led alliance and Iran. A possible thaw between Tehran and Doha could, in theory, lead to a confrontation with Washington, as the latter has an immense military base currently on the peninsula. A rapprochement between Iran and Qatar would be a vast security risk to the U.S. military. Further escalation could also bring renewed threats to oil and gas shipping in the Persian Gulf.

Even without a military confrontation, the Saudi-UAE vs Qatar confrontation holds another risk.  Doha will be able to sabotage the current 6+3 production cut agreement between OPEC and non-OPEC members. If Doha decides to join the ranks of Iran and Iraq, OPEC’s future will be in doubt.

Also in order to oust Qatar from the committee it needs Oman and Kuwait to agree with Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain. But these two countries are deciding to remain neutral in the crisis.

More than threatening Qatar out of the GCC it’s more important that the gulf nations try and retain Qatar with them as they might push the tiny, yet powerful gas nation towards Iran and Turkey which is exactly what they are afraid of.

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