Spread The Washington Institute for Near East Policy An analysis of the photo published by the director of Ibn Salman’s office, Badr Al-Asaker, a few days ago through his Twitter account, and surprised everyone, as it showed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, accompanied by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and the head of Emirati intelligence, Tahnoun bin Zayed, while they were in beach clothes in a session friendly.
Simon Henderson, director of the Gulf Program at the Institute, said in his analysis of the image that it indicates the end of the fierce hostility between the UAE and Qatar.
This development, according to Henderson, threw upside down the assumptions of many about whether and how one of the thorny issues of US diplomacy in the Gulf could be changed.
Picture of Mohammed bin Salman, Prince Tamim and Tahnoun bin Zayed
The writer said in his analysis, “Followers of Gulf affairs were surprised, and even skeptical, when the Twitter account of the private office of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman published on September 17 a picture of three Gulf leaders on Twitter.”
And he continued: “It appears that the photo was taken earlier that day, and shows Prince Mohammed bin Salman standing between the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and the National Security Adviser of the UAE, Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, son of the founder of the state, and the brother of its actual leader, and the Crown Prince. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. The three were wearing beach clothes with big smiles on their faces.”
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And soon the photo spread on social media because it indicated the end of the fierce hostility between the Emirates and Qatar. Confirmation that the photo was indeed real came shortly after, when it was tweeted by The Saudi Gazette, an English-language newspaper.
Henderson pointed out that on September 18, the photo also dominated the front page of the Saudi newspaper, “Arab News”, the largest in English, under the title “A Quiet Meeting in the Red Sea.” In addition, the meeting has been reported in the UAE, including in Gulf News, which is published in Dubai.
He continued, “The surprise was that from 2017 until early this year, this period witnessed a major rift in relations between Qatar on the one hand and Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt on the other.”
The charges against Qatar
These countries had accused Qatar of a range of unacceptable activities, including supporting terrorism, charges that Doha denied more than once.
In January, the end of the row was announced at a meeting of state leaders hosted by Mohammed bin Salman in the Saudi desert resort of Al-Ula. Details were not clear, apart from the confirmation that the accusations of interference were terminated [قطر] In the internal affairs of other countries and vice versa. However, the UAE and Bahrain seemed at that time reluctant to accept reconciliation.
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The past few weeks have seen several different diplomatic moves. On August 25, Qatari Foreign Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Neom in his future city being built on the Red Sea, and delivered what was described as a message from the Qatari leader.
The next day, Sheikh Tahnoun – who is seen as a reliable and secretive emissary of Prince Mohammed bin Zayed – met with Prince Tamim in Qatar.
On a potentially related trip, earlier that month Sheikh Tahnoun visited Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a supporter of Qatar, where Turkish forces maintain a military base near its capital.
According to the writer, the recent development, based on the tweet, indicates another gain for Qatar, after strengthening its international standing to help it evacuate American citizens and other foreigners as well as Afghans from Kabul amid the American withdrawal.
Perhaps it is worth looking at diplomacy in the context of Gulf leaders realizing that official interest in the United States has declined during the Biden administration compared to under Trump. According to some reports, high-level visits by US officials are a fraction of what they were under the previous administration.
Mohammed bin Salman uses diplomatic influence
Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s attempt to use Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic influence in the region to end the Gulf dispute earlier this year – according to Henderson’s speech – is seen as a gesture towards the next administration in the White House, which was seen as wanting to distance itself from the crown prince. Because of his connection to the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
It is unclear how successful this approach will be: The Biden administration remains wary of MBS, even though it – after initially hesitating – has expressed its approval of the “Abraham Accords,” the name of the peace agreements signed between Israel and the UAE, as well as Bahrain. and Sudan.
On September 17, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken chaired a virtual discussion with his counterparts in Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco — which have signed a deal with Israel parallel to but separate from the Abraham Accords — marking the first anniversary of normalization.
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The writer concluded his analysis by saying: “The importance of the tweets of Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Prince Tamim and Sheikh Tahnoun will be more accurately reflected in any reaction from the Emirati Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, who was absent on official visits to Paris and London last week.”
He added: “And also through any response from Bahrain, which may feel marginalized. But for now, a photo and a 140-character tweet has thrown up many assumptions about whether and how one of the thorny issues of US diplomacy in the Gulf can be changed.”