‘The right step to preserve the GCC is to freeze Qatar’s membership’
Quoting Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, Reuters reported that unless Qatar changed its security policies, it (Bahrain) would not attend the upcoming GCC conference and proposed the possibility of freezing Qatar’s membership in the group.
Bahrain raises the stakes
Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt are four countries that cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in June, based on allegations that Doha is helping finance terrorism in the region, a charge that Qatar denies.
“If the situation remains as it is, we won’t attend this summit,” Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said on Twitter, referring to the GCC meeting in Kuwait scheduled for December.
“The right step to preserve the GCC is to freeze Qatar’s membership in the council,” he said.
Reuters also relayed how Saudi state TV channel quoted Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa as saying on Monday: “Qatar has pursued policies aimed at the security of member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council […] Qatar has proved that it does not respect the charters, treaties and ties established by the GCC.”
Global credit rating agency S&P expects that political tensions within the GCC will persist over the next few years, until the disparities between group members are bridged.
As a group, they had previously agreed to have a unified VAT. When it came to providing financial support, it was unanimously approved, such as the case with support packages for Oman and Bahrain.
Trade is the first victim in this conflict, affecting the aviation industry especially, and Qatar Airways is feeling the pinch right now.
International Policy Digest, an independent foreign policy website, said in a recent report that when Saudi Arabia cut off Qatar Airways’s rights to use its air space for all flights to and from Qatar, this move forced Qatar to re-route over Turkey and Iran.
Qatar Airways loses roughly 50 flights a day, 18 destinations and approximately 18 percent of the “airline’s total seating capacity,” Rob Watts, Managing Director at Aerotask, a global aviation consultancy firm, told the site.
“Profitable redeployment of this capacity will prove a substantial challenge for the airline.”
In a recent report, CAPA, Centre for Aviation, said: “The ban on flights has a greater impact on Qatar Airways, which operates more flights [on affected routes] than all other airlines combined.”