Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Winner and the Loser in the Qatar Crisis | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Streets of Qatar (AFP Photo/Patrick BAZ, Patrick BAZ)

Evaluating the current situation of the four governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, and Bahrain confrontation against Qatar doesn’t require political and media experts. It is not a military or a complicated political battle.

The first conclusion is that the crisis could prolong. We have entered the third month since the four countries announced they will no longer tolerate Qatar’s hostile policy against them.

Keep in mind that these countries are serious about their decision. So would they, after nine weeks, back down?

No, they didn’t and neither did Qatar. Diplomatic relations are still severed and embassies remain empty. Qatar still can’t use Saudi land border or air routes and UAE, Saudi, Bahraini regional waters.

The pressure is mostly on Qatar’s government ebing hit by these decisions, and in return it doesn’t have any means to punish the four states.

Sanctions are costing Doha a lot. It is seen moving in every possible direction to compensate the absence of any relations with Jeddah, Abu Dhabi, Manama, and Cairo, particularly in terms of their influence on its economic and social life.

It seems that Qatar was surprised with sanctions against it, yet its economy is relatively small which enables the government to overcome any shortage and try and find costly local and foreign alternatives.

Qatar is capable of continuing to fund its stance, but it will cost it a lot, as long as it has surplus of income depending on gas and oil revenues.

However, its situation is still not normal as it will use plenty of its savings at the expense of funding other military and political activities in the region.

And for the record, the bill is huge.

Other losses are yet to be seen as a result of decreasing its credit rating in the banking sector. The crisis will also affect Qatar’s constructing facilities for World Cup 2022.

In addition, there is a shortage in foreign laborers because of circulating fears around the world, and for the first time ever, Qatar is categorized among regional countries in crisis.

Doha’s defiant and arrogant attitude is the reason managing the crisis has been both costly and failing. Qatar is acting like it is the biggest and strongest state.

It contacted the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and insisted to force the boycotting countries to allow it to use their air routes. However, the organization repeatedly informed Qatar that it’s not responsible for political disputes and cannot force anyone to open their air routers unless there is an emergency.

Other international organizations also conveyed the same message to Doha.

So, to prove that it is capable of being steadfast, Qatar transported its Qatar Airways passengers to other countries for higher costs.

Qatar exerted a lot of efforts, including making huge deals, to get foreign governments to pressure the four countries to restore relations with it.

Major counties like US, Germany, France, UK, and Italy tried to mediate with Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Cairo, and Manama but failed to lift off sanctions.

Now, the four countries are comfortably observing Qatar in turmoil using all of its political, media and financial weapons. Yet, it didn’t manage to get Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Cairo and Manama to take a single step back.

The boycott besieged and exhausted Qatar in other places. Doha became weak in arenas which it considered a part of its major activities such as Syria, Libya and Iraq.

Even in its interactions with other states Qatar has become weaker. It is keen on gaining the support of other countries or neutralizing them despite the cost and risks. It is also expediting the pave of reconciliating with Iran.

Qatar’s strategy in the battle is to force the four countries into backing down rather than accepting their terms. Eventually, it will succumb to pressures and accept most of the demands regardless of what Doha is trying to do or say.

Qatar is refusing to negotiate the terms and wants negotiations without preconditions. The four countries don’t have to go into talks with Qatar because the current situation is comfortable for them, especially that the tavke was turned on Doha which exported troubles and crises to each of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and UAE.

Now, Qatar is under a series of crisis because of these countries. So, after paying heavy prices trying to convince other powers to support it, and after depleting all its media resources and still no one stood by it against their own government, it will eventually negotiate within the context of the six principles.

Doha may even back down from the rest of its formal expectations, such as holding negotiations in a neutral country.

Qatar could have spared itself a lot of troubles and embarrassment and done all of this during the first week of the crisis.