Will the GCC Survive?

As is well known, the current crisis in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was caused by the June 5 decision of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Egypt, followed later by a few others, to cut off diplomatic relations as well as trade and transport links with Qatar. Well-wishers of the GCC, which had escaped the ravages of what started as the Arab Spring in 2011, have reason to be deeply disappointed.
The crisis is getting worse by the day primarily for two reasons. First, Qatar’s adversaries seem determined to punish it whatever be the cost thereof in terms of regional stability, peace, and the suffering caused to people in the GCC and elsewhere. Second, Washington, which alone has the clout to intervene and, if need be, impose a settlement in its own interest, appears to be incapable of coherent and rational action under President Trump who has signalled a policy contradicting that of his own Secretaries of State and Defense. Without indulging in untenable counterfactual thinking, anyone could have seen that had Obama been in the White House, Secretary Kerry would have undertaken shuttle diplomacy and ended the current crisis within days. That such a settlement might have been cosmetic and that the underlying causes and complaints might have remained is a different matter. In diplomacy, one is not always looking for a permanent cure. The first priority is to put out the raging fire.

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