Qatar was once the poorest country in the Gulf region, whereas for now; they are one of the richest in the region today. Also, today Qatar shares the world’s largest gas field with Iran.
However during the past one month, Qatar has been facing some major problems from its neighbours. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, The United Arab Emirates and Egypt have severed all forms of diplomatic ties with Qatar. The above nations except Egypt, gave Qatari Citizens a total of 14 days to exit from their territories. Furthermore Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and The UAE denied their citizens the right to either travel or reside in Qatar.
All the four Gulf nations accused Qatar for allegedly supporting terrorism and warned Qatar that restrictions will remain as the same until Qatar “changes its policies for the better”. Qatar did however admit providing assistance to some Islamist groups such as the Muslim-Brotherhood, but “denied supporting militant groups linked to al-Qaeda or the so-called Islamic State”.
According to U.S. intelligence officials, The United Arab Emirates had hacked into Qatari government social media and news sites. They further posted raging but untrue quotes linked to Qatar’s emir which resulted in a diplomatic crisis.
Qatar responded in late May stating that hackers had posted false comments by the emir, an explanation which the Gulf states refused to acknowledge.
Qatar’s neighbours presented a 13-point list of demands to Qatar on 22 June 2017, to which Qatar refused all demands. While reading the pointers, it felt like Qatar’s neighbours not only want to boycott Qatar but further take its sovereignty away. Had it been any other nation, they would have also refused the “considerable” demands.
Saudi Arabia alongside other Arab nations also demanded Qatar to permanently close the Al Jazeera network. Al Jazeera is known for its credibility throughout the world. It has always spoken from an unbiased point of view about all the happenings in the Middle East and the unnecessary intervention of Israel and the Western nations.
Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations have always been under scrutiny by Al Jazeera. Thus, the need for them to get Qatar to shut the Al Jazeera network down.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, The UAE and Egypt discontinued their airspace to Qatari aircraft and foreign airlines would have to request special permission for overnight flights to and from Qatar. This shut down of airspace caused Qatar Airways a tremendous amount of loss, but unfortunately they had no say in it.
Turkey and Iran have proved themselves to be of great help to Qatar during this crisis. As 40% of Qatar’s food supply came through its land border with Saudi Arabia, they were at a lost until Turkey and Iran began sending food supply by air and sea.
The intentions behind the demands made by Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations are clear in a way that not only do the Arab nations want to weaken Qatar, but also cause a rift between Qatar and Iran. The 13-point list also demanded Qatar to lessen its ties to Shia-majority Iran and to close a Turkish military base in the emirate. Saudi Arabia is a Sunni dominated nation, therefore knowing that Qatar has good ties with Iran; it feels threatened.
The United States is still providing weapons to Qatar despite the crisis. Furthermore, during a press conference with the Romanian President at the White House, Trump said Qatar is funding terror “on very high level”. It does not come off as a surprise for the United States government to play a hypocritical role during international conflicts. They have always been first to take the popcorn out and try to “solve” the issue while supporting both opposing parties.
This crisis is not only affecting the Qatari government, but its nationals both in and outside of Qatar. From a third party’s point of view, it is hard to decide who is right or wrong as all parties have different stands on the crisis.
However, it is pretty clear that Qatar is being sidelined and Saudi Arabia has a vital role in causing the crisis. Saudi Arabia’s insecurities are becoming more and more obvious now. Time shall determine how and when will this crisis end.
Maria Khan Safi