Kuwait to mediate Gulf rift, promising Doha ‘no guardianship’

Kuwait is leading mediation efforts after Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain severed diplomatic relations with Qatar.

Kuwait is trying to mediate a Gulf crisis in which Arab countries have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and moved to isolate the energy-rich travel hub from the outside world, Qatar’s foreign minister said early on Tuesday.

Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah is expected to arrive in Jeddah on Tuesday to meet with King Salman bin Abdulaziz, before heading to Doha to meet with Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

Kuwait’s conciliation efforts are based on rejecting “imposed guardianship” on Qatar, its national decisions and foreign policies, The New Arab has learned.

Qatar’s foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, welcomed the mediation efforts.

In an interview with Doha-based Al-Jazeera news channel, Sheikh Mohammed struck a defiant tone, rejecting those “trying to impose their will on Qatar or intervene in its internal affairs”.

However, Doha wants to allow Kuwait the ability to “proceed and communicate with the parties to the crisis and to try to contain the issue,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

Kuwait’s emir had played an important role in a previous Gulf rift in 2014, and Qatar’s emir “regards him as a parent and respects his desire to postpone any speech or step until there is a clearer picture of the crisis,” the foreign minister said.

Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the ruler of Qatar, on Tuesday postponed an address over the diplomatic tensions that have roiled the Gulf region in recent days and weeks, giving Kuwait some time and room to mediate.

The state-run Kuwait News Agency reported Kuwaiti ruler Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah spoke with Qatar’s emir on Monday evening and urged him to give a chance to efforts that could ease tensions.

Monday’s decision bans Saudi, UAE and Bahraini citizens to travel to Qatar, reside there or pass through it.

Residents and visitors from those countries were given 14 days to leave Qatar, while Qatari nationals were also given the same notice to leave those countries.

The measures are more severe than the previous eight-month spat in 2014, when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and UAE recalled their ambassadors from Doha, accusing Qatar of allegedly supporting militant groups.