Bahrain minister calls for Qatar's GCC membership to be frozen

Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa says Bahrain will not attend upcoming GCC summit if Qatar takes part
Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa.
By Bloomberg
Mon 30 Oct 2017 12:29 PM

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa called for the freezing of Qatar’s GCC membership, escalating attempts by a Saudi-led coalition to deepen the isolation of the gas-rich country.

Bahrain will not attend the upcoming GCC summit if Qatar takes part, Sheikh Khalid said on Twitter. He criticized Qatar for refusing to comply with a list of 13 demands, including shutting down Al Jazeera television and scaling back ties with Iran. The next summit is set to take place in December in Kuwait, which has been leading regional efforts to resolve the crisis.

Sheikh Khalid is the first senior official from the Saudi-led bloc, which also includes the United Arab Emirates, to float the idea of suspending Qatar’s membership in the GCC, a loose political and economic alliance between six gas-rich nations. It’s not clear, however, whether the three countries have enough support to do so, with Kuwait and Oman widely seen unlikely to follow suit. Resolutions on “substantive matters” require the unanimous approval of attending members, according to the GCC charter.

“Qatar’s failure to respond positively to our just demand to stop conspiring against our countries proves that it does not respect the GCC,” Sheikh Khalid said. “The right step to protect the GCC is to freeze Qatar’s membership until it comes to its senses.”

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut their diplomatic and transport links with Qatar in June, accusing it of funding extremism and cosying up to Shiite-ruled Iran, Saudi Arabia’s chief regional rival. Analysts say the rift could cause irreparable damage to the GCC at a time when its members are trying to attract foreign investments and reduce their reliance on revenue from oil exports.

Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, told CBS’s 60 Minutes that U.S. President Donald Trump offered to host him and the nations boycotting his country at Camp David to resolve the crisis.

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