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Diplomacy drives efforts to end Qatar crisis

European officials visit Gulf states to help in mediation efforts spearheaded by Kuwait

Gulf News

Pressure should be maintained on Qatar to ensure that it mends its ways by turning away from terrorist and extremist groups and individuals.

Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, countries which have broken diplomatic ties with Qatar, should not budge until there are tangible signs of change in Doha’s stance.

The four nations have condensed their 13-point list of demands into six broad principles to combat terrorism and extremism.

Now, it’s time for Doha to show its good intentions by taking steps to curb funding of terror groups.


The boycotting countries have shown admirable patience and have opted for diplomacy instead of confrontation, despite Doha’s refusal to toe the line in mediation efforts by Kuwait.

Diplomacy

The channels of diplomacy are working feverishly, judging by the number of officials coming to the region to try and patch things up.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and French Prime Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian made visits to the Gulf, so did US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other officials from European countries.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held talks in Jeddah on Sunday before going to Kuwait, where European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini was trying to revive the mediation efforts.

Erdogan’s role is not clear because Turkey has been backing Qatar all along. So he cannot be an impartial negotiator.

But if he can help, why not?

Because diplomacy is the best way to resolve the impasse. Qatar continues to paint itself as the victim in the stand-off that began on June 5, 2017. The world is not convinced and it’s time Qatar realises its folly.

Doha must realise that the Gulf is a sensitive geopolitical area and terror groups like Al Qaida and Daesh should not be allowed to ply their trade.

The leadership in Qatar should also take cognisance of the fact that US President Donald Trump has wholeheartedly backed the anti-terror alliance, despite the “lenient” approach of his Secretary of State.

It should also be fully aware that the Americans will have no qualms about looking for another military base to replace Al Udaid airbase in the tiny country.

The Gulf Cooperation Council states have always maintained that Qatar must revert to the “Gulf house”.

The boycotting countries have given a guarded welcome to Doha’s anti-terror deal with Washington, but they insist more needs to be done since Qatar has a habit of going back on the agreements it has signed.

Terror mouthpiece

The quartet seems to have adopted a flexible approach on Al Jazeera, but insists that the Qatari television channel maintain professionalism and desist from being a terror mouthpiece.

The position is refreshing as it is a sign that the four countries are keen to get things moving rather than punish Qatar with brinkmanship.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE had presented a list of 59 individuals involved in terror activities and Qatar has acknowledged that they can be dealt with.

This clearly suggests Qatar might be looking an exit strategy or face-saving formula.

The anti-terror coalition countries have driven home the point that Qatar can’t possibly be part of GCC if it pursues policies detrimental to the other countries in the bloc.

The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Mohammad Gargash told Qatar at a London meeting: “You can’t be part of a regional organisation dedicated to strengthening mutual security and furthering mutual interest and at the same time undermine that security... You can’t be our friend and a friend of Al Qaida.”

The Qatari leadership should have the wisdom to realise that they can’t keep ruffling the feathers of neighbours, particularly in the Middle East where stability has been a source of concern.

The volatility in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen is adequate evidence of the disruption caused by terrorist and extremist elements.

If Qatar stops backing these disruptive forces, it will go a long way in helping efforts to fight terrorism in the region.

 

Marwan Asmar is a commentator based in Amman. He has long worked in journalism and has a PhD in Political Science from Leeds University in the UK.

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