Blockade-hit Qatar invited to Arab Summit in Saudi Arabia

Blockade-hit Qatar invited to Arab Summit in Saudi Arabia
Qatar is yet to decide on its level of participation after receiving an invitation to the Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia, Doha's foreign ministry spokeswoman told The New Arab.
3 min read
04 April, 2018
The upcoming summit is the first to take place since the blockade on Qatar [Getty]
Doha received an official invitation to participate at the Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia this month, the Qatari foreign ministry said, more than ten months into a land, air and sea blockade on the Gulf state.

Qatar's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Lulwa al-Khater, who revealed the move to The New Arab, said Doha has yet to respond to the invitation.

"The state of Qatar has received the invitation to participate in the Arab Summit, and will participate, but we have not yet decided the level of participation," al-Khater said in a statement to The New Arab.

It came after Qatar participated in the preparatory meeting of the Arab League summit, which was held in Cairo last March, and was attended by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad al-Muraikhi.

Arab leaders will arrive in the kingdom for the talks on April 15.

In February, Qatar's deputy prime minister and foreign minister, Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman al-Thani, told a meeting of the Qatari Shura Council that his country would "attend the next Arab summit regardless of where it is held and the country that will host it".

Qatar University's Professor of Sociology, Majid Al-Ansari added: "Qatar is keen to continue its active role in these organisations, so it will not withdraw from participating in these institutions as it was present at the highest level at the summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council held in Kuwait in December last December. [Qatar] will be present and represented at the next Arab summit, which is expected to be held in Saudi Arabia."

"The host country of the summit is obliged to invite Qatar and accept its attendance," he added. "Qatar will undoubtedly be part of the meeting."

Riyadh is required to send official invitations to all Arab countries to attend the Arab League summit. Political observers had previously suggested that freezing Qatari membership in the Arab League could be a way to avoid the official invite and still bar Qatar from attending.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt broke ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of supporting extremists and being too close to Iran, Riyadh's arch-rival.

After cutting off Qatar, Saudi Arabia and its allies imposed a land, sea and air blockade of the emirate and issued a list of 13 demands to have it lifted.

The list of demands included shutting down media outlets Al Jazeera and London-based The New Arab, curbing relations with Iran and closing a Turkish military base in the emirate.

Qatar categorically denies the allegations and accuses the bloc of aiming to incite regime change.

The upcoming summit is the first to be attended by Qatar since the Gulf crisis broke out in June 2017. 

Last month, US President Donald Trump threatened to scrap the Camp David summit if the Qatar dispute was not resolved.