What Happened: Saudi King Salman inaugurated the annual Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Riyadh on Dec. 9, Al Jazeera reported. But just before the summit, Qatar's Foreign Ministry announced that Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani would not attend the meetings.
Why It Matters: The non-attendance of al-Thani, juxtaposed against the presence of higher-level leaders from other GCC states, indicates the severity of continuing tensions between Qatar and other Gulf states, as Doha is attempting to demonstrate that it can thrive economically despite the ongoing blockade by other GCC members. Meanwhile, King Salman's presence at the summit puts a temporary end to earlier speculation that he was hospitalized due to health concerns.
Background: The annual GCC summit occurs in December each year and provides a platform for leaders in the region to assess the strength and state of relations among member states. But like the 2017 meeting, this year's summit has been overshadowed by regional tensions.
- Qatar: Doha Says Goodbye to OPEC (Dec. 3, 2018)
- The Gulf's Smaller States Use Their Wiles to Fend Off Bigger Rivals (Nov. 13, 2018)
- The Blockade on Qatar Opens the Door for Competition (Aug. 14, 2018)