Arab quartet hails Kuwait’s efforts to resolve Qatar crisis

• Kuwait City and Ankara sign six accords
• Kuwait downgrades relations with Pyongyang under pressure from Washington

September 8
Saudi, UAE-led bloc praises the Kuwaiti emir for his efforts to resolve the Qatar crisis
The quartet of countries blockading Doha released a joint statement expressing appreciation for the Emir of Kuwait’s diplomacy in pursuit of a resolution to the GCC’s months-old crisis. Yet the anti-Qatar bloc of Arab states voiced their regret over the Kuwaiti leader’s comment, made while he was in Washington with President Trump, regarding the “success of the mediation in preventing a military intervention”.

September 13

Kuwait and Turkey sign agreements
Kuwait’s prime minister and his Turkish counterpart met in Ankara to sign six accords. The agreements cover several sectors, including civil aviation, scientific research, and sports.

September 17
Kuwait downgrades relations with North Korea
With tension remaining high between Washington and Pyongyang, Kuwait took diplomatic action against North Korea, informing Pyongyang’s ambassador that he must leave within one month. The Kuwaitis also expelled four other North Korean diplomats. In response, the U.S. embassy in Kuwait City praised Kuwait as a “key regional partner on (North Korea) and many other issues.”

Analysis: Last year, while the Obama Administration was directing U.S. foreign policy, Washington began putting pressure on Kuwait to reconsider the nature of its relationship with North Korea. This year, the Trump Administration has stepped up such pressure because the issue of Pyongyang’s workers being employed in the Gulf and other regions around the world is a growing concern for Washington. In the future Kuwait could demonstrate further support for Trump by fully severing diplomatic relations with North Korea.

Yet the decision to downgrade relations with the Hermit Kingdom is diplomatically significant because Pyongyang’s ambassador to Kuwait also represents North Korea to Bahrain, Qatar, and the UAE, which along with Kuwait and Oman established official ties with the Northeast Asian country in the 1990s and 2000s. How these other Arab Gulf states respond to growing tension between the U.S. and North Korea remains to be seen. It is possible that more GCC members will follow Kuwait’s lead in terms of taking action against the Hermit Kingdom as a sign of support for the U.S. and their key trade partners, South Korea and Japan.

Photo credit: Flickr/Creative Commons/Kuwaitelections2012