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Saudi snub Qatar and Oman 5, November 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Oman, Qatar, Russia.
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Al Sharq Al Awsat reports that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince summoned the Foreign Ministers of the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Jordan to his residence for a discussion. Plainly and pointedly missing from this meeting are the Foreign Ministers of Qatar and Oman. Whether this is a deliberate snub is difficult to say. Veteran – if implacably angry – commentator on the region Assad Abu Al Khalil certainly takes this for a snub towards the excluded countries.

Oman and Qatar have the highest levels of Israeli interaction in the Gulf. In Doha there is an Israeli trade office which has been closed since the January Israeli incursion. As for Oman, they too have a (now closed) Israeli trade office in Muscat but there is also an Omani Embassy in Israel and formal diplomatic representation for Israel in Muscat. Both countries also apparently offered to resume relations in return for Israeli movement (or lack thereof) on settlements.

This is, therefore, a perfectly feasible reason or common denominator as to why the two states may have been excluded. Perhaps the UAE are lucky still to have been invited given that the Israeli flag was raised for the first ever time in Abu Dhabi a few weeks ago, but their relations still do not really compare to Oman and Qatar’s.

Indeed, at higher levels of the Saudi government, there is believed to be considerable anger remaining from the Qatar-Saudi Arabian conference scuffle in January, with each seeking to hog the limelight and host the summit to get Arab agreement on how to proceed to resolve the recent Israeli invasion.

There are no firm conclusions to be made, only interesting suppositions to be conjured up and – essentially – gossip to be spread.


1. anon - 9, November 2009

Who wrote this nonsense? Saudi doesn’t care about Israel. It’s not always about Israel. In case you forgot, both Qatar and Oman also have good relations with Iran, which Saudi doesnt like.

davidbroberts - 9, November 2009

As I said in the article, it was Assad Abu Khalil that first mooted this notion.

I agree that there could be many reasons and your point about Iran is, of course, perfectly valid. However, I wouldn’t go quite as far as to say that Saudi ‘don’t care about Israel’. I’d contend that they care very much, particularly about the politics involved with Israel. I.e. they might well be angry because Qatar and Oman are doing what they politically cannot: interact to some degree with Israel.

2. anon - 9, November 2009

Assad never said the two countries were snubbed because of Israel – you did. When it comes to Iran, ie: when we’re talking in relative terms, then Saudi Arabia does not care about Israel. Iran is Saudi Arabia’s biggest concern, and in that field (and perhaps others, such as extremism), Saudi and Israeli interests are aligned. To overlook that is plain naiive

3. anon - 9, November 2009

Besides, if Saudi was so upset about relations with Israel, it would start with Israel’s buffer states, like Egypt and Jordan, which are just short of declaring zionism as their state ideology

4. davidbroberts - 10, November 2009

This is becoming tedious.

This article is 284 words long. Is it a complete exposition on all variables, foibles and facets of Saudi foreign policy? What do you think?

I assumed and continue to assume that people will not take a 284 word blog posting as some kind of all-encompassing summary and analysis of a topic, covering every angle possible. It is a musing on one particular aspect of one particular topic.

Do I say or even insinuate that this is the only reason? No, quite the opposite: “This is, therefore, a [as in ONE, as in there are going to be more than one…] perfectly feasible reason or common denominator as to why the two states may have been excluded.

Your comment on Saudi not caring about Israel is clearly wrong. There is just no other way to put it.

You are also completely wrong when you say that Saudi would, if they wanted to do something about Israeli connections, ‘start with Israel’s border states’. No they wouldn’t. They realise that there is no going back for these States. They understand their predicament and would not ostracize them and themselves by following such a plainly stupid and impossibly line of reasoning. Furthermore, Saudi and Egypt are joined in a mild but important argument/conflict with Qatar et al which boils down to these two heavyweights seeking to keep their place at the top of the Middle East’s diplomatic tree. They resent and are annoyed with Qatar et al in recent years [as both Assad and I mentioned] which manifested itself recently in the ‘conference wars’ in January/February this year.

You make a good point regarding the alignment of Saudi and Israel on extremist issues and I agree that Iran are probably their number one concern. Nevertheless, Israel clearly matters. Domestically, they are still pivotally important: they are the perpetually important circus in the rentier state’s bread and circuses modus operandi, if you know what I mean.

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