The government of Qatar and its people should be under no illusion of the resolve of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states to ensure that Doha ends its dangerous liaisons and flirtations with men of terror. Whether it is through their finances or fidelity, Qatar must end its association with these destructive and dangerous groups and individuals, and honour its commitments to the GCC states — not just in hollow words, but in a genuine spirit of determination in deeds to end the threat of terrorism and extremism.
The leadership in Qatar must be honest too in its dealings now with the international community and explain why it is the subject of a coordinated and determined action by the GCC states. That explanation to others must make clear that it is the subject of — and will continue to be — an international boycott. It’s also wrong for Qatari officials to interpret this boycott as a blockade — to do so plays fast and loose with the truth.
There is an important and very real distinction between the words and actions associated with and integral to both “boycott” and “blockade”.
The GCC states have imposed a boycott. The terrestrial crossing with Saudi Arabia is closed — as is the right of the kingdom to do so. Equally, it is also the sovereign right of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to close their respective airspace to any plane of any nation as these nations deem fit. And in this instance, all three sovereign nations have chosen to shut their airspaces to planes belonging to Qatar Airways. In essence, these are the legitimate coordinated actions integral to the “boycott” until Qatar sees reason and effects real change by ending its funding and support to terrorists.
These actions, however, do not amount to a “blockade”, and for Qatar, its representatives on the international stage, its media or its apologists to deliberately mislead, alter or offer and alternative truth is simply wrong. A “blockade” infers that there are military forces at play, its aircraft grounded, its ports shut down by naval vessels. This is a deliberate attempt by Qatar, its officials and its media conglomerate, to distort the situation.
The reality is that Qatar is not cut off — its planes are still flying, its ports are open. If anything, its deliberate misuse of language exemplifies the very nature of the issue now highlighted by the UAE and its brothers.