Saudi Arabia & Qatar to end media 'war' and withdraw lawsuits – significant moves in the Middle East which could have Newcastle United takeover impact

A number of significant moves in the Middle East this evening could have a profound effect on the stalled Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, Reuben Brothers and PCP Capital Partners attempted buyout of Newcastle United.

The £300 million deal, which hit the rocks back in July, was held up over the Premier League’s inability to determine a separation between the Saudi state and its rulers, and PIF, the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund.

But that separation, it is widely understood, has roots in the Premier League’s want to tie PIF to widespread piracy of Premier League rights in the nation, the beoutQ saga and Qatar-based beIN Media Group’s loss of earnings.

The saga stems from a proxy war waged on a number of different fronts – including in the media – from 2017 onwards.

And this evening, on the eve of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) summit of Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, there appears to have been a thawing of relations between the Saudis and Qatar – with air and land borders being reopened, and Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani confirming his attendance.

Further to this, and perhaps most significant if looking for any Newcastle United takeover encouragement, it is being reported that Qatar are set to sign an agreement which would see them drop lawsuits against the Saudis and the duo’s media ‘war’ will cease.

In a series of tweets, Barak Ravid, Diplomatic Correspondent at Walla News reports the significant movement.

He tweeted: “The Leaders are going to sign an agreement which includes 3 confidence building measures: Saudi Arabia, UAE & Bahrain will lift air & sea blockade off Qatar, Qatar will withdraw all law suits against its Gulf neighbors & all parties will stop media campaign against each other.”

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (C), clad in mask as part of COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic protocols, waves during the Amir Cup final football match between al-Sadd and al-Arabi at Al-Rayyan Stadium in Al-Rayyan, Qatar, on December 18, 2020. (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR / AFP) (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Associated Press report: “Kuwait’s foreign ministry on Monday announced that Saudi Arabia will lift a years-long embargo on Qatar, opening its air and land borders in the first steps toward ending the Gulf crisis.

“The state-run Kuwait News Agency reported the announcement, saying that Saudi Arabia would open its airspace, land and sea borders starting Monday evening.

“Kuwait has been mediating between Qatar and four Arab states that launched an embargo in mid-2017 over Qatar’s support for Islamist groups in the region and its warm ties with Iran.

“The announcement comes on the eve of a summit of Gulf Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday that will be chaired by Saudi King Salman. Qatar’s ruler is now expected to attend the summit for the first time since the embargo.

“The decision by the close U.S. allies comes in the final days of the Trump administration’s time in office, and just ahead of the incoming President-elect Joe Biden.”

Ravid’s tweet thread explains the situation further.

It reads: “The state of play: (Jared) Kushner (senior advisor to the US president) traveled to the Gulf Cooperation Council summit which will take place in Al Ula. White House envoy Avi Berkowitz and adviser Brian Hook who helped negotiate the agreement joined Kushner on his trip.

“The summit tomorrow will be the first time the Emir of Qatar Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani visits Saudi Arabia since the crisis erupted in 2017. The leaders of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Kuwait are going to attend.

“The Leaders are going to sign an agreement which includes 3 confidence building measures: Saudi Arabia, UAE & Bahrain will lift air & sea blockade off Qatar, Qatar will withdraw all law suits against its Gulf neighbors & all parties will stop media campaign against each other

“Behind the scenes: The deal was reached in principle during Jared Kushner’s last visit to Saudi Arabia and Qatar several weeks ago during which he met the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and the Qatari Emir Tamim. Kushner has close relationships with both leaders.

“U.S. officials say that after meeting the Crown prince Kushner travelled to Doha with Hook but left behind in Saudi his close aides Avi Berkowitz and Adam Boehler. The four mediated between the Saudis and the Qataris over the phone in real time until a draft deal was reached.

“In the last few weeks final discussions where held with the Saudis and the Qataris to make sure they are committed to the understandings that were reached, the U.S. officials told me.

“The White House also lobbied the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt who all had reservations about the agreement, see Qatar in a very negative way and do not think the Qataris are sincere.

“The deal almost fell apart on Sunday when a last minute miscommunication created new tensions between the Saudis and the Qataris over the agreement, sources briefed on the matter told me.

“Kushner who was supposed to leave on Sunday afternoon postponed his trip. A source told me Kushner had to negotiate with the Saudis & the Qataris until the middle of the night on Sunday until a solution was found. He left Washington to Saudi Arabia early morning Monday.

“A senior diplomat from one of the Gulf countries told me the agreement is a step in the right direction and includes some positive developments but it is not the end of the Gulf rift.”

This movement has the potential to remove geo-political barriers and dissenting voices from the Gulf region in relation to the Newcastle United takeover.

The decision on the deal itself, however, remains firmly with the Premier League, who are being pressured at present by Mike Ashley’s legal team.

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