The CNN got hold of the copies of the agreements Qatar had made with its Gulf neighbours in 2013 and 2014 barring support for opposition and hostile groups in those nations, as well as in Egypt and Yemen.
The existence of the agreements has been known, but both the content and the documents themselves were kept secret due to the sensitivity of the issues involved and the fact that they were agreed in private by heads of state. The agreements were obtained by CNN from a source from the region with access to the documents.
The Gulf countries have accused Qatar of not complying with the two agreements, which helps explain what sparked the worst diplomatic crisis in the Middle East in decades.
The first agreement – handwritten and dated November 23, 2013 – is signed by the King of Saudi Arabia, the Emir of Qatar and the Emir of Kuwait. It lays out commitments to avoid any interference in the internal affairs of other Gulf nations, including barring financial or political support to “deviant” groups.
The agreement, referred to as the Riyadh agreement, specifically mentions not supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Gulf nations have repeatedly alleged Qatar supports, as well as not backing opposition groups in Yemen that could threaten neighbouring countries.
#CNN Exclusive: Secret agmts incl. handwritten 2013 pact signed by Qatar, Saudi & Kuwait royals detail Gulf crisis https://t.co/mFTlffEhYA pic.twitter.com/delH02pP5w- Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) July 10, 2017
In the first agreement, the countries also vowed not to support “antagonistic media,” an apparent reference to Al Jazeera.
A second agreement headlined “top secret” was dated November 16, 2014.
It specifically mentions the signatories’ commitment to support Egypt’s stability, including preventing Al Jazeera from being used as a platform for groups or figures challenging the Egyptian government.
The second agreement specifically mentions Al Jazeera. After the agreement was signed, Al Jazeera had shut down a channel dedicated to Egypt coverage: Al-Jazeera Mubashir Misr.
A supplemental document to the 2013 agreement signed by the countries’ foreign ministers discusses implementation of the agreement.
It includes provisions barring support of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as outside groups in Yemen and Saudi Arabia that pose a threat to security and stability of Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
The documents hint at longstanding tensions between the countries in the GCC.
In March 2014, for instance, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar because they alleged Qatar was not implementing the first agreement’s pledge not to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs.
But the agreements also provide new insight to help explain why nine Middle Eastern countries, led by Saudi Arabia, cut ties with Qatar in June over its alleged support of terrorism. – courtesy CNN