Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Qatar: Purpose behind Escalation | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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People walk in Mall of Qatar in Doha, Qatar July 5, 2017. Picture taken July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon/File Photo

The Qatari foreign minister has disclosed the government’s concern that the purpose of the four states’ boycott is to change the regime in Doha! The rest of the Qatari officials and official media, however, continued to express belief that the target is to change the government’s policy and acts, boasting that this won’t happen.

Are the four states in quest of changing Qatar’s regime or attitude?

Certainly, both parties are not on good terms and that’s why ties have reached an unprecedented phase in the history of political tension – this is supposed to urge Qatar to carefully read the messages sent by Bahraini, Emirati, Saudi and Egyptian governments.

The Qatari government might be confused about the meanings behind the messages, but it surely knows that countries rarely express what they really want and rely instead on familiar rules of diplomacy, with varying degrees, to express themselves.

Since the first week of boycott, confusion surfaced in Doha which turned to Turkey’s help and communicated with Washington to explore its position since Qatar hosts its two military bases. Qatar also accelerated its cooperation with Iran in fear of a military act.

One month later, Qatar focused on media confrontation instead of military defenses to respond to accusations ranging from backing international terrorism to destabilizing Arab states. These dangerous charges were endorsed by major states including the US.

Despite the Qatari foreign minister’s speech at Chatham House in London on his concerns over a wish to change the regime, there has not been any military mobilization on the Qatari border or maneuvers in its vicinity.

No threats were made against Qatar except for the boycott, which is a means of expressing differences among countries and is not up to par with the accusations made by the Qatari minister.

The four states’ boycott of Qatar – or the blockade as Doha calls it – can’t be aiming to topple the regime because Qatar isn’t besieged. Its alleged suffering has been ridiculed because its airport and port are working and the shelves are stocked with all kinds of foods including luxurious items such Salmon and Caviar!

With two giant cargo aircraft daily, Qatar can easily meet citizens’ needs of food and medicine. You can’t topple a government – that has USD170 billion in foreign banks, an equivalent to the Jordanian budget for 15 years- by boycotting it economically!

Then, what is the purpose behind all these decisions and their accompanying fuss?

The four states’ rage reflects that of the whole region which sees Qatar as a threat to security and stability because it hasn’t stopped, for years now, its programmed activities to manage political change and its backing of extremist Islamist groups.

By the force of arms, Qatar brought some of these groups to power such as in Egypt. It had a pursuit to impose extremist terrorist groups in volatile areas such as Libya and Syria, by favoring them over moderate armed political groups.

There were high hopes that Qatar’s policy of supporting Islamist armed groups and intervening in others’ affairs would change with the former emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani handing power to Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

There was an optimism that we might be facing a new Qatar that is going to follow the path of other Gulf states in dedicating itself to local development. But four years have passed and proven that the political project hasn’t been altered with the change of the reign.

I believe that the four states’ goals of the boycott have quick and subsequent results. For the first time, Qatar has found itself in the eye of the storm. It has fallen under international scrutiny and is being closely watched in light of serious accusations of financing and supporting terrorism.

Qatar is now partly isolated with only Turkey standing by its side, yet Doha knows that Ankara would go with the flow of its interests just like it did with Russia and Iran.

Political and financial activities’ cost has hiked in Qatar and worst of all is that it has become a notorious authority not only locally and among its people but also within the ruling family. This bad reputation will weaken Qatar with time and with the continuation of confrontations.