DUBAI May 26 Kuwait's foreign minister met
Qatar's ruler on Friday for talks that appeared aimed at trying
to ease renewed tensions between Qatar and fellow Gulf Arabs
over its policy towards Iran and regional Islamist groups.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates signalled
frustration at Qatar after its state media published purported
remarks by Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani criticising Gulf
rhetoric against Iran and suggesting tensions between the emir
and U.S. President Donald Trump.
Qatar said the remarks, published late on Tuesday, were fake
and that the news agency that ran them had been hacked in an
apparent attempt to misrepresent Sheikh Tamim's views.
But Gulf Arab countries including Saudi Arabia allowed their
state-backed media to run them throughout the day on Wednesday,
infuriating Doha and triggering a war of words in regional
Kuwait, which acted as a mediator during a previous Gulf
dispute with Qatar, sent its top diplomat Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid
al-Sabah to visit Sheikh Tamim on Friday. He conveyed greetings
from the Kuwaiti emir to the ruler and Qatari people, state news
agency KUNA said, without elaborating.
A Gulf Arab official told Reuters on Thursday that Kuwait's
emir had offered during a conversation with Sheikh Tamim to
mediate and host talks to ensure the feud does not escalate.
Kuwaiti officials were not immediately available for comment.
On Thursday Qatar's foreign minister told reporters Doha
wanted to maintain "strong and brotherly relations with GCC
(Gulf Cooperation Council) countries."
Rifts between Qatar and other regional states have
implications far beyond their borders. Gulf countries have used
their oil and gas wealth to influence events in the wider Arab
world and relations can affect the political balance in Libya,
Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
"In a turbulent region, there is no alternative to Gulf
unity, and Saudi Arabia is the linchpin," UAE Minister of State
for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash wrote on Twitter on Friday,
calling on all Gulf states to rally around the dominant GCC
Since the dispute erupted, authorities in Saudi Arabia and
the UAE have blocked the main website of Qatar-based al Jazeera
television, which Riyadh and Abu Dhabi see as critical of their
governments. On Friday some Al Jazeera television channels were
also still blocked. The station says it is an independent news
service giving a voice to all sides in the region.
The latest tensions came days after Gulf Arab leaders met
Trump at a Riyadh summit of Muslim nations meant to showcase
solidarity against Sunni Muslim armed militant groups and
Shi'ite regional foe Iran.
Relations between Qatar and other Gulf Arab states suffered
an eight-month breach in 2014 over Qatar's alleged support for
the Muslim Brotherhood, whose political ideology challenges the
principle of dynastic rule. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain
withdrew their ambassadors from Doha in protest.
(Reporting by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)