Skip to main content

Saudi summits mask Gulf divisions

Saudi Arabia's three summits last week made for impressive imagery, but the unity they projected was superficial.
General view of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, May 30, 2019. Picture taken May 30, 2019. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. - RC14404B7D30

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman hosted three summits last week in an impressive display of the kingdom’s convening power. The Saudis won endorsement for their isolation of the Houthis but no practical support for the war in Yemen. Their main goal, confronting Iran, was undermined by defections from their camp. The Palestinians may be the biggest winner, as the one area of agreement was support for the two-state solution and condemnation of the US administration's policy on Palestine and Jerusalem.

The king convened consecutive summits of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Mecca. Turnout was mixed. Morocco’s King Muhammad VI, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Oman’s Sultan Qaboos sent deputies, as did the emir of Qatar. Though the Qatari representative briefly shook hands with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, the blockade on Qatar was not lifted.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.