But the move is also strategic for Europe, given its desire to be closer to key negotiations affecting stability in the region. Kuwait and the EU broadly see eye to eye on the issue of the Qatar blockade, launched in 2017 by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. Kuwait, which did not take part in the blockade, maintains smooth relations with Doha and has made several attempts to mediate between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors in attempts to quell the conflict, though so far to no avail.
“Kuwait has shown willingness to play a diplomatic role in some of the most complex contexts in the region including Qatar and Yemen,” Cinzia Bianco, GCC analyst at London-based Gulf State Analytics, told CNBC Thursday. These are issues that are of high importance to Europe, but in which it lacks significant means to have a real impact, she said. “Therefore, closer coordination with Kuwait for the EU is also a way to stay closer to negotiations on key issues.”
Kuwait also shares the EU’s desire for a stable and economically developed Iraq, and it hosted the International Conference for the reconstruction of Iraq in February of this year. The country of 4 million was the victim of a brutal invasion by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 1990, but 15 years after his ouster is pledging billions of dollars toward its reconstruction, seeking to prevent further instability that it fears could spill over its borders.
Importantly, the country lacks the sectarian agenda often ascribed to regional powers Saudi Arabia and Iran, and prides itself on the relative harmony between its Sunni and Shia communities, the latter of which constitutes around 40 percent of its population.
“Kuwait regards the tuning down of sectarianism in Iraq and the region as highly beneficial for its own stability and is, to that end, willing to at least have a conversation with Iran,” Bianco said. “The EU also regards the tuning down of sectarianism as crucial to stability in the region.”