Alessandro Bianchi | Reuters
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani attends a news conference in Rome, Italy, July 1, 2017.
Kuwait maintains an important role in reuniting the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries amid the ongoing blockade of Qatar, Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani said Saturday.
“The (Kuwait) Emir has had a big leadership role in calming the situation which is highly appreciated by Qatar. We continue to count on the role of Kuwait and on the countries in the region to bring it back together,” the minister told attendees at the annual Doha Forum.
Relations between the oil-rich states of the GCC have been fraught since Saudi Arabia, joined by Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, imposed an economic and diplomatic blockade on Qatar in 2017. Riyadh and its allies accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism, which Doha consistently denies.
Kuwait, however, did not take part in the blockade. Its government maintains smooth relations with Doha and has made several attempts to mediate between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors to help quell the conflict — thus far to no avail.
“Kuwait has shown willingness to play a diplomatic role in some of the most complex contexts in the region including Qatar and Yemen,” Cinzia Bianco, GCC analyst at London-based Gulf State Analytics, told CNBC earlier this month.
On December 3, Qatar announced its planned departure from OPEC, the 15-member cartel of oil-exporting countries whose largest producer is Saudi Arabia. Qatar and the Saudi-led bloc both blame one another for preventing a solution from being reached.
“We believe that we are more relevant as a bloc for those countries than we are separate and fragmented,” the minister added.
Qatar saw foreign deposits in its commercial banks drop by $13 billion in the six months following the blockade; it’s now regained about $9 billion of that, according to Fitch ratings. Analysts at the ratings agency say the blockade forced Qatar to diversify its revenue sources, ultimately making it more self-sufficient.