The entire Gulf region would like to see the row with Qatar end. The unusual split is debilitating for both the five Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members seeking to maintain their united position, and the one errant member. Qatar must eventually realise that it should return to the join positions that have been agreed so often in the past and form the bedrock of how the six nations should tackle the scourge of terrorism and violence that is causing so much damage to the region and world at large.
But such a return to normality needs to be completely transparent. Qatar has said in the past that it would drop its acquiescence with the men of violence, but has then reverted to continuing to work with them. Qatar agreed in 2014 that it would conform to the GCC joint positions, but shortly thereafter it was off on its own track again. And this year, it was only days after the joint GCC summit with US President Donald Trump that Qatar suddenly declared its willingness to continue working with groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood that have caused much damage in the region. A slightly different example of Qatar’s dangerous ideas surfaced this week when the Iraqi government spoke out against Qatar’s support for splitting the Iraqi state into sectarian areas.
This is why Qatar will need to accept rigorous monitoring of its operations after any return to the fold. The GCC states are well able to keep an eye on much of what it is doing but others will need to help ensure that Qatar sticks to what it promises. The funding of plans that are much too close to terror and violence needs to be stopped completely, which is why Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, laid down a marker that can be picked up in future reconciliation talks when he told the Guardian newspaper in London that “we need a monitoring system, and we need our western friends to help in this.”
This will be important to make sure that Qatar is not stating one thing, but is continuing to fund extremists, and providing support to the Brotherhood, or Hamas or Al Qaida. Action is building around the international consensus that Qatar’s activities mean that it cannot continue to be treated as a normal member of the international community. Qatar will have to prove that it should be treated normally.