In the last few weeks Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt offered Qatar several chances to relinquish its support for terrorist and extremist forces so that they can rollback the measures against the tiny Gulf nation. With the region and the world awaiting a positive response from Qatar, comments and insinuations emerging from Doha are not at all encouraging. The statements of Qatari Foreign Minister Shaikh Mohammad Bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani, in response to the 13-point list of demands of the quartet, are nothing but self-deceiving.
The Qatari minister has condemned the boycotting countries’ refusal to negotiate these demands, although they were plain and simple. Qatar could have decided to negotiate, but instead chose to debate the principle and acted evasively. The minister should have known of the futility of the exercise.
Shaikh Mohammad Bin Abdul Rahman talks about the principles of international relations and the foundations of negotiation. But he ignores the fact that his country has torpedoed these very principles and violated international law. Financing terrorism, hosting and defending terrorists on its satellite channels, Qatar is not in a position to speak of principles.
Qatar seems to remember the laws and morals only when it is under pressure, and spews the usual slogans of victimisation and sedition.
Complying with the demands would enable Qatar to return to its natural context and align itself once again with the Gulf Arab countries, a natural condition to retain membership in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Arab League. The two organisations cannot accept a member that is hostile to the interests of the other members. It would be difficult to manage the situation wisely when crimes and terrorism lurk nearby.
Neither guardianship nor ostracism has been imposed, contrary to the claim by Qatar’s propagandists. Rather, the list represents a serious request to the Qatari leadership to come to terms with its misconduct and criminality.
However, the leadership is not concerned about the interests of its people. Otherwise, it would not have wasted billions on projects that are against the interests of the Qataris and Arabs in general.
Playing the role of the bullied victim will expose the Qatari state to more stringent measures from the boycotting countries. Doha should have received the message from the start, but it staked on the time factor and mediators to pressure the Arab bloc to waive its demands. It always relied on inaccurate calculations driving its people into a quagmire.
Qatar’s stubbornness and arrogance are manifest in its reluctance to show any goodwill to its neighbours. The country wants to win at any cost, regardless of the loss of billions to the Qatari economy since this crisis erupted. It relied on international pressure, mainly from Iran and Turkey, to make its case, without realising that it can’t have any serious effect in altering the course of events.
Time has come perhaps for an international monitoring of Qatar’s activities. Although the country’s row with the neighbouring nations needs a regional solution, Doha requires international monitoring more than ever before. A country with $300 billion (Dh1.10 trillion) in reserves cannot be allowed to be a sponsor of terrorist causes. The world cannot allow Doha to get away with it. Qatar’s failure to realise its folly is baffling. The world is battling the scourge of terrorism and here is Qatar funding such activities. It beggars belief.
What’s even worse is that it does not realise that it is playing a dangerous game. Recent insinuations and fake stories about the Qatari government’s official news sites being hacked smacks of desperation. It should not know that such accusations can only add fuel to the fire. Qatar certainly is not looking to end the crisis.
Dr Salem Al Ketbi is an Emirati political analyst, researcher and opinion writer.