Qatar Criticizes Mecca Summits as Hopes for Reconciliation Fade

(Bloomberg) -- Days after emergency summits on Iran raised hopes of a reconciliation between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors, their ministers were locked in a media spat.

Qatar’s foreign minister criticized statements at the three meetings Saudi Arabia convened in Mecca last week as too "hardline” to engage Tehran in dialogue.

They "adopted Washington’s policy toward Iran and not one that takes the neighborhood into consideration," Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani told Al Jazeera TV on Sunday. "Qatar has reservations on the Arab and Gulf summits because some of their terms are contrary to Doha’s foreign policy," he told the U.K.-based Al-Araby broadcaster.

Foreign ministers from the three Gulf countries that imposed an embargo on Qatar in June 2017 were swift to respond.

States should "declare their positions and reservations at the meetings and in accordance with established norms, not after the meetings have ended," Saudi Arabia’s Adel Al-Jubeir said in a tweet.

"Agreeing at meetings and then going back on what has been agreed upon is due either to pressure on the weak who have lost sovereignty, or bad intentions, or a lack of credibility, or all of the above," said Anwar Gargash of the United Arab Emirates.

Bahrain’s Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa called Qatar’s participation in the summit "weak and ineffective."

Saudi Arabia called three meetings -- one for Gulf leaders, another for Arab states and a third for all Muslim nations -- to try to project a unified Muslim stance against its archrival Iran after attacks on Saudi oil facilities and several ships near the Gulf. Tehran has denied any involvement in sabotage.

But attitudes toward Iran are not monolithic in the Gulf Cooperation Council, with some states having relations with both Saudi Arabia and Iran and others, like Qatar, refusing to be bound by Saudi policies. Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E. and Bahrain say the embargo on Qatar was launched to force it to relinquish its support for Islamist extremists and end its cordial relations with Islamic Republic.

Qatar’s representative to the meetings was its prime minister, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Al Thani, the most senior official to visit the kingdom since the blockade was imposed. That heightened speculation that the crisis with Qatar was on its way to being resolved.

Leaders at the Gulf and Arab summits backed Saudi Arabia, and an Arab League statement demanded that the international community "stand with all decisiveness and strength against any Iranian attempt to threaten energy security." Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz accused Iran of threatening global oil supplies and shipping.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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