Abu Dhabi: The Qatari crisis has entered its third month, but the boycott of Doha imposed by the Arab quartet is set to continue because the Qatari regime fails to comply with their 13 demands and broader UN principles to combat terrorism and stop interference in other countries’ affairs, analysts say.
Although they are ready for talks with Doha, the Arab quartet is fully prepared to confront Qatari intrasigience for the long haul. The situation seems to be heading for a protracted crisis.
The four countries have expressed they are ready for dialogue with Qatar if it declares its “sincere willingness” to stop funding terrorism and extremism, halt interference in other countries’ foreign affairs, and respond to the 13 demands.
On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed their diplomatic relations with Qatar and closed their airspace and ports to Qatar-registered planes and ships over accusations it was supporting terrorist and extremist groups.
Instead of seriously addressing concerns of the Arab quartet and thus returning to the GCC fold, Doha opted to manoeuvre by protesting against the boycott at international organisations.
First by claiming the quartet’s move was a “blockade”. But the Arab quartet refuted Doha’s claims that a “blockade” has been imposed on Qatar by GCC countries, arguing that it was a boycott in keeping with international laws and motivated by the need to protect their national security.
Following the Manama meeting, Shaikh Abdulla Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said all measures taken by four states were within the jurisdiction of international law and “essential to deter the scourge of terrorism which affected stability of other countries.”
Earlier, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said in Washington after a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson there is no blockade of Qatar.
“The ports are open, the airports are open … What we have done is we have denied them use of our airspace, and this is our sovereign right. The limitation on the use of Saudi airspace is only limited to Qatar Airways or Qatari-owned aircraft, not anybody else … Qatar’s seaports were open,” Al Jubeir said.
In another failed attempt to politicise the Haj pilgrimage, Qatar accused Saudi Arabia of stopping its citizens from attending the Haj, a false claim that Riyadh called a “declaration of war”.
Qatar took its complaint to the UN special rapporteur, prompting an angry response from the Saudi Foreign Minister.
Despite the deepening row, Saudi Arabia says Qataris are welcome to attend the Haj, which is due to begin this month.
Qatar has also claimed the boycotting countries were in violation of the air travel treaty because they blocked Qatari flights from their airspace, a charge negated by the UN’s aviation authority, the International Civil Aviation Authority.
Saudi Arabia has also provided emergency corridors for Qatar through their airspace.
Desperate to lift the boycott, Qatar also launched a legal process at the World Trade Organisation, requesting consultations with the three Gulf countries and triggering a 60-day deadline for them to settle the complaint or face litigation at the WTO and potential retaliatory trade sanctions.
The wide-ranging legal complaint at the Geneva-based body is set to fail as the economic sanctions imposed on Qatar by the three fellow Gulf states do not violate WTO agreements, the Quartet has said.
Qatar has also accused Egypt of misusing its position on the UN Security Council, but Cairo denied the allegation in a letter to the council on Thursday, and accused Qatar of supporting terrorist groups financially and ideologically in Syria, Iraq and Libya.
Dr. Ayman Salama, a member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs and professor of international law at Cairo University, believes the boycott and the economic sanctions by the Arab quartet is completely legal that cannot be challenged, especially as Qatar has repeatedly undermined their national security.
“The measures taken by the Arab quartet are sovereign steps to protect the security and the safety of their countries,” Dr Salama told Gulf News.
Qatar’s public relations campaigns have also been dismal failures in making the right impression among Americans, as the Arab News/YouGov poll shows.
Half of respondents said they do not know enough about the Gulf state to pass judgement.
Yet, the next highest response rate — at some 34 per cent — reflects those whom associate Qatar with terror financing.
The poll also shows that most Americans, at 63 per cent, recognise Al Jazeera as a news source, but they do not believe that the network reflects professional journalism standards, which means many Americans do not trust Al Jazeera’s reporting.