By any standards, it was necessary for the Gulf States to rearrange their affairs, as the conflict has exhausted them for little or no benefit. They are essentially one family and when a conflict occurs between the members of a family, everyone is harmed. Only their enemies benefit from such conflict as they seek to deepen the wounds and amplify suspicions amongst them. The family members are led to believe that they have no way to protect themselves other than falling into the embrace of foreigners, relying on them, and believing their lies and allegations. This is the basis upon which many regional and international policies have been adopted.
The Gulf region is not only about oil wells, as many people believe. Its people are part of a larger nation and history, and when this nation was exposed to risks they had a clear role to play in reducing the threats. Hence, the Gulf people and their region have always been part of an ongoing strategic struggle.
The end of the Gulf dispute – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]
There is no doubt that the conflicts since the 1970s in particular have affected the people negatively and damaged individual interests extensively. They threatened the foundations of collective existence in a difficult and complex set of circumstances, and this is why the recent Gulf summit was an important step towards turning the page and not looking back, as to do so would only deepen the wounds, not heal them.
The dispute in the Gulf since 2017 has had an effect on the whole region. The enemies realised this long ago and worked on it to weaken the Arab world. With reconciliation in place, the hope is now to rebuild trust around a united vision for the region. Everyone should protect everyone else's back, which is not an impossible goal when there are sincerity and political will, and the Gulf Cooperation Council is effective again.
If the Gulf problem is resolved, then there is hope for other issues in the region, in Palestine, for example, and Libya. The latter has suffered for almost a decade and is still unsettled. Under the rule of Muammar Gaddafi, relations with the Gulf rulers were difficult, to the detriment of cooperation and common interests. When he was overthrown and killed, the Libyans expected it to usher in a new era of state-building, democracy, and freedom. That has not materialised due to disagreements about power-sharing and the country's natural resources. The destructive civil war is ongoing, with foreign backing on either side, including militias and troops on the ground, each with their own objectives and interests. Hundreds of people have been killed and billions of dollars have been wasted, but Libya is no nearer any solution.
Reform in the Gulf can help the process in Libya and restore stability. Neighbouring Tunisia will also benefit. It faces severe economic problems, but if Libya is stable, then tens of thousands of Tunisian workers will have jobs, with a knock-on effect on their home economy. Moreover, the amount of reconstruction that will be needed in Libya will be a boon for its workforce, as well as workers from Tunisia. Hundreds of Tunisian construction companies will also benefit. Rebuilding vital cooperation between Libya and Tunisia will spill over into Algeria, enabling all three governments to tackle unrest and terrorist activities with greater confidence and strength. This will benefit the sub-Sahara region as well as Europe. Stability in Libya means stability for Tunisia because Libya is the metaphorical lung from which the Tunisians breathe.
The Arab world is a large geographical, cultural, economic, and security area divided into nation-states; when one of these is hurt, the whole feels the pain. Hence, Gulf reconciliation is bound to have an impact on a number of countries and their complex issues. What is important is that eyes are opened, intentions are sincere, and priorities are rearranged. When that happens, anything is possible.