09 Jan 2018 - 10:33

Call for unity

The Peninsula

Addressing a two-day gathering of senior legislators of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Kuwait Emir H H Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah has warned that the “deteriorating circumstances in the Gulf” is a challenge to all the member states. His concern came in the wake of the illegal and unjustifiable siege against the State of Qatar that entered its eighth month without any sign of ease.

As the main mediator in the stand-off, Kuwait has called for dialogue to resolve the dispute. The Kuwait Emir, in his opening speech, stressed the need for cooperation and consultation at all levels in order to face the deteriorating situation in the region and the growing challenges for the GCC.

Last month, the heads of state from the three boycotting states skipped the 38th GCC summit hosted by Kuwait, while the UAE and Saudi Arabia announced the formation of a new economic and military partnership, separate from the GCC. But, Kuwait said at that time the GCC would continue to operate and carry out its duties despite the spat and yesterday the Emir reiterated that collective action is the only way to address the challenges the GCC States are facing.

The blockade against Qatar has separated families, infringed on the right of free expression, and interrupted medical care and education. It also has reached at a level of breaching individual and religious freedom.
It was widely reported that Qatari people, for the first time in history, were denied the right to perform the Haj, the highest religious duty in Islam, by the Saudi authorities last year. Many Qataris were expelled from the Grand Mosque in Makkah while performing Umrah, immediately after the siege was announced.

Preventing Qataris from performing the Umrah, the lesser pilgrimage, is continuing as the Saudi authorities last week deported a group of 20 Qatari nationals from Jeddah airport to Kuwait, after two days in detention at the facility, while they were on their way to perform the religious duty. Denying a religious duty by any means is not acceptable legally or morally. Qatar’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had filed a complaint in this regard during the Haj days to the UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion and to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

When the region is facing a volatile situation, the unity and integrity of the countries in the region are of utmost importance and any attempt to destabilise it will threaten the peace and tranquility of the nations and its citizens. Regional tensions should be tackled through political engagement and not by imposing unilateral measures. Qatar has always called for dialogue to resolve any dispute. Arrogance and bullying will not solve issues. Kuwait Emir’s wise words should be taken in its spirit.