ISTANBUL – President Barack Obama is arriving in Saudi Arabia at a critical moment for the country. Its recent decision to withdraw its ambassador from Qatar has revealed the gravity of the crisis in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), composed of the Kingdom’s most immediate neighbors. Indeed, Gulf politics is shifting toward a new balance in the wake of the Saudi-UAE rapprochement and the recent attempt to isolate Qatar.
The UAE and Bahrain have joined Saudi Arabia in downgrading relations with Qatar. This is an unusual move, considering the Gulf states’ tradition of treating political disagreements as a family matter, to be handled behind the scenes. Oman is keeping its distance from the situation, while Kuwait has attempted to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.