EU urges bickering states to set aside migration differences
As the Prime Minister meets regional leaders in Colombo to discuss the state of the nation at the GOSC, we look back over recent diplomatic developments in the Gulf.
After a week of relative calm in recent months, Gulf diplomatic tensions again rose sharply at the start of this year with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) becoming the world’s youngest king since Muhammad’s death in 632 and the United Arab Emirates announcing a ban on all Muslim women from leaving the Middle East.
But an unlikely and unexpected solution was also on the cards as UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum sought to broker a compromise with the kingdom on the issue of Muslim women in public buildings.
Although the UAE’s ban on women travelling abroad was the most direct challenge to the Saudi Arabian crown prince in recent years, MBS remained defiant after the ban was announced and responded with statements from Twitter users calling him a “mad dog” and an “animal”.
MBS appeared unperturbed and took to social media to respond to Emirati criticism of him, calling on other Gulf states to respect the UAE as an “Islamic emirate” and “ancient Arab civilisation”.
The two countries’ governments have since agreed to a compromise in the shape of a three-step road map. This will be announced on 17 June, but it remains unclear from where the agreement will lead for the long term.
On 8 June, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir met with his UAE counterpart Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in Riyadh, where they signed an agreement to cooperate on a number of topics, including security, climate change, trade and the war in Yemen. They agreed on increased collaboration in the field of health and science and to meet again in September.
Saudi Arabia has also agreed to provide the Emirati authorities with all available information to help prevent terror attacks, and to provide more support to the health sectors, trade, infrastructure and agriculture.
But many observers feel that this agreement could not prevent the situation from escalating in the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince himself condemning Emirati criticism in a series of Tweets, and suggesting that he is the voice of the Muslim world