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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.

Bahrain-Israeli relations 1, October 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Bahrain, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
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MEMRI reports that the Bahraini foreign minister is calling for direct negotiations with Israel. It remains to be seen, however, exactly how their domestic, largely Shia, largely Iran supporting and largely angry audience will take this announcement. In Qatar, where their Foreign Minister frequently openly seeks better relations with Israel, their population is far less divided, far less angry and far more monetarily rewarded than in Bahrain, giving him a certain amount of leeway to say such things.