In a sign of thawing relations between Qatar and its Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) big brother Saudi Arabia, the former participated in a GCC Ground Forces Commanders meet held in the Saudi Capital, Riyadh earlier this week.
The 18th meeting of GCC ground forces commanders ended on March 7, after running for two days at the General Secretariat headquarters in Riyadh, Qatar News Agency reported.
The delegation of Qatar was chaired by deputy commander of the Qatari Amiri Land Force Brigadier General Saeed Haseen Al Khayarin. During the meeting they discussed issues related to joint military action and ways to enhance cooperation between the ground forces, in addition to a brief presentation on the unified military leadership of the GCC countries consisting of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
This is perhaps the first military-to-military contact between the two GCC members ever since Saudi Arabia imposed an air -blockade on Qatar besides closing its sea and land border in June 2017.
In addition, the Qatari military also joined the Saudi force in the ongoing two-week long joint-military exercise that began on 23 February, “Peninsula Shield,” that will consist of training and exercises on land, sea and air; thus easing the tensions between countries to an extent. The drill is scheduled to end on March 12.
The 2017 blockade followed an accusation by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and UAE, when the countries blamed Doha of harbouring extremists and developing friendly relations with Iran; an accusation that Qatar has been denying.
The quartet then issued a list consisting of 13 demands for Qatar to comply within ten days, in order to normalise the severed ties between the countries.
The list included demands to shut down the Al Jazeera media network, expelling Turkish troops from the country, cutting off ties with Iran, and making reparation payments to the states. The demands were rejected by Qatar, which denounced them as attempts to infringe its sovereignty.