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Saudi-Qatar tensions divide GCC

The announcement by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates that they are withdrawing their ambassadors to Qatar is a further sign of the deterioration in Saudi-Qatar ties and the fragmentation of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz (R) is greeted by an officer upon his arrival to attend the 130th meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Riyadh on March 4, 2014. AFP PHOTO / FAYEZ NURELDINE        (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)
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The fragmentation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is one of the unexpected casualties of the Arab uprisings. On March 5, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced in a joint statement that they have withdrawn their ambassadors from Qatar, thus confirming the country as the enfant terrible of the Gulf monarchies. Vague reasons were given to justify this unprecedented bold move, attributed to ensuring “stability and security,” while sensational details began to emerge in the Saudi- sponsored press about the alleged hidden intrigues of Qatar against its neighbors.

The three GCC states professed to have tried to persuade Qatar to remain within the fold of the GCC in its overall policies toward the Arab region, mainly to withdraw its support for the Muslim Brotherhood and stop being a launching pad for dissidents and activists not only in the wider Arab region but also in the Gulf itself. Saudi Arabia managed to enlist Bahrain and the UAE to back this symbolic break in relations with Qatar, but it must remain the prime suspect behind ostracizing an old, troublesome neighbor.

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