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Why Did the UAE and Saudi Arabia Form a New Group, Separate from GCC


The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have formed a new military and trade partnership separate from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), according to a statement issued by the UAE.

About the creation of a joint alliance of the two country was announced against the backdrop of the summit of the GCC in Kuwait. It is the first summit since Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, as well as Egypt imposed a regional embargo on neighbouring Qatar, triggering crisis in the region. The latter announced in early July about cutting off relations with Qatar, accusing Doha of sponsoring terrorism and interfering in its neighbour’s internal affairs. Numerous efforts at mediation made by fellow Gulf states and European leaders have failed. The creation of a new alliance by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates undermines hopes for a settling the crisis in the near future.

In October Bahrain openly called for Qatar’s membership to the GCC to be suspended until it accepted the demands made by the four boycotting states. Although it is not clear if Bahrain is going to join the grouping, or was invited to do so, it seems that in this way, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have decided to get rid of the undesirable elements of regional cooperation. It should be noted, that both Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the most aggressive countries towards Iran.

The two countries are the main members of a coalition fighting Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen and are at the forefront of Arab efforts to counter Tehran’s influence in the Middle East. Their initiatives in this direction are not always accepted by other Gulf monarchies, particularly Qatar, Kuwait and Oman. This initiative of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates once again proved that although Gulf countries almost always come out with a common position, there are serious disagreements among them, which hamper Saudi Arabia's regional ambitions. Creation of such an alliance speaks that Riyadh intends to further strengthen its influence in the region and is going to make active steps in this direction in the near future. This means more confrontation with Iran.

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