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Saudi Arabia made a rare invitation to Qatar for its emergency Iran summit. Here’s what to expect...

DUBAI — Arab leaders have convened in Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Mecca for a two-day emergency meeting aimed at addressing increasing tensions with Iran.
The Gulf states have even reached out to Qatar, the estranged neighbor that Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt cut off via a land and sea blockade two years ago. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman extended his invitation to Qatar and Doha accepted, marking the first landing of a Qatari jet in Saudi Arabia since June of 2017.
“The fact that the Saudis contacted the Emir of Qatar directly suggests that the tension with Iran is taken very seriously in Riyadh,” Andrews Krieg, a lecturer at the King’s College London School of Security Studies, told CNBC.
“So the kingdom is ready to build a broader than usual consensus on how to deal with Iran.”


But does this signal a breakthrough in Qatar-GCC relations and a possible end to the blockade? Don’t hold your breath, regional experts warn.

“While the invitation to (Qatari Emir) Sheikh Tamim is a positive step in a potential thaw in the Gulf rift, it should not be overblown,” said Becca Wasser, a policy analyst and regional specialist at the Rand Corporation. “Such invitations are symbolic and important, but they do little to solve the underlying factors that led to the rift.”
Giorgio Cafiero, founder of Washington D.C.-based think tank Gulf State Analytics, poked further holes in the prospect of a warm reunion between the alienated states.
“Talk of the summits leading to a resolution of the Gulf crisis is premature,” he wrote in an article for foreign affairs website LobeLog along with Qatari academic Khalid al-Jaber. In fact, the Saudis continue banning Qatari jets from the kingdom’s airspace. The Qatari jet that landed in Jeddah on May 27 was permitted entry into Saudi airspace just because of the upcoming Mecca summits, not due to any overall change in Saudi policy. ”
While reports describe the Qatari monarchy as receiving the invitation warmly, Doha is sending its Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani rather than its head of state, given that official relations between the two remain frigid. The economic and political blockade was launched based on charges that Qatar supported extremism and enjoyed cozy ties with Iran, accusations the Qataris reject.
DUBAI — Arab leaders have convened in Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Mecca for a two-day emergency meeting aimed at addressing increasing tensions with Iran.
The Gulf states have even reached out to Qatar, the estranged neighbor that Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt cut off via a land and sea blockade two years ago. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman extended his invitation to Qatar and Doha accepted, marking the first landing of a Qatari jet in Saudi Arabia since June of 2017.
“The fact that the Saudis contacted the Emir of Qatar directly suggests that the tension with Iran is taken very seriously in Riyadh,” Andrews Krieg, a lecturer at the King’s College London School of Security Studies, told CNBC.
“So the kingdom is ready to build a broader than usual consensus on how to deal with Iran.”


But does this signal a breakthrough in Qatar-GCC relations and a possible end to the blockade? Don’t hold your breath, regional experts warn.

“While the invitation to (Qatari Emir) Sheikh Tamim is a positive step in a potential thaw in the Gulf rift, it should not be overblown,” said Becca Wasser, a policy analyst and regional specialist at the Rand Corporation. “Such invitations are symbolic and important, but they do little to solve the underlying factors that led to the rift.”
Giorgio Cafiero, founder of Washington D.C.-based think tank Gulf State Analytics, poked further holes in the prospect of a warm reunion between the alienated states.
“Talk of the summits leading to a resolution of the Gulf crisis is premature,” he wrote in an article for foreign affairs website LobeLog along with Qatari academic Khalid al-Jaber. In fact, the Saudis continue banning Qatari jets from the kingdom’s airspace. The Qatari jet that landed in Jeddah on May 27 was permitted entry into Saudi airspace just because of the upcoming Mecca summits, not due to any overall change in Saudi policy. ”
While reports describe the Qatari monarchy as receiving the invitation warmly, Doha is sending its Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani rather than its head of state, given that official relations between the two remain frigid. The economic and political blockade was launched based on charges that Qatar supported extremism and enjoyed cozy ties with Iran, accusations the Qataris reject.
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