RIYADH – Saudi Arabia was hosting a summit of Arab Gulf leaders Sunday as crises brew over a bitter diplomatic dispute with Qatar, the war in Yemen and the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani was invited by Riyadh, which severed diplomatic ties with Doha in 2017 along with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to the Gulf Cooperation Council talks. In the emir's place, Qatar announced it had sent State Minister for Foreign Affairs Soltan bin Saad al-Muraikhi to the annual event. Saudi Arabia and its allies accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism and fostering close ties with their regional rival, Iran. Doha -- which announced this month it was quitting the Saudi-dominated OPEC oil cartel -- denies the allegations, but the dispute has dragged on.
The global trade in weapons is booming, with sales to the Middle East surging. Amid regional instability, an arms race is under way among Arab Gulf countries. The members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) - Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait - have spent billions of dollars on weapons this year alone. Here's a look at the recent deals made. So far in 2018, Saudi Arabia has allocated over $3bn to arms deals.
Iran and Turkey may seem like unlikely partners following events of the past few years, especially in Syria. But they are saying the same thing about the recent "Yes" vote in the Kurdish referendum, as neither want Kurdish people living in northern Iraq to secede. Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani welcomed him to discuss curbs on the Kurds' dream of their own homeland. Turkey is threatening to stop buying oil from the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq, while Iran has mobilised troops on its border with the region. What more can de done, beyond an economic embargo?
For the past five days, the Gulf region has been experiencing one of its most serious political crises in recent history. Early on Monday, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain cut diplomatic relations with Qatar in an apparent attempt to isolate the country. In addition to these three countries, Egypt, Libya, Yemen; the island nations of Maldives and Mauritius; and countries such as Jordan, Mauritania, Djibuti and Senegal have also joined in the campaign against Qatar, one of the most prosperous countries in the Gulf region. This unwise decision will undoubtedly harm the feeling of unity among the Gulf countries and cause serious repercussions for the perpetrators behind it. Since the beginning of the crisis, analysts have been trying to understand the motives behind this move, which was spearheaded by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.