Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Rolling Qatari Snowball | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani meets with US President Donald Trump in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 21, 2017. (Reuters)

Because Gulf warnings to the fellow neighbor were incessant for 21 years and the violation of pledges and agreements continued, confusion still prevails in Doha following the storm of cutting ties by neighboring countries and several others.

Qatar deemed this (sovereign) measure a hostile one, then it repeated the same old statements of diplomacy and dialogue, before turning to its friend Iran and also resorted to the forces of its ally Turkey. In another occasion, its ambassador in Washington said Qatar was ready to fix mistakes “should they be proven”.

In this way, Qatari diplomacy is wrapping the noose around its neck without taking any actual step that proves its positive approach towards the crisis that it caused because Doha is still adopting its former tactic of stalling without realizing that time is quickly running up.

Interestingly, Doha has not yet processed the real disaster it is experiencing. Following the reaction of the ties-cut decision and the designation of some Qatari citizens and institutions on the terrorism list, here comes another disaster, which is undermined by Doha. The real catastrophe is when the president of the most powerful country in the world openly accuses you of supporting terrorism, while your media and team deceive you by telling you that there is nothing to worry about. They are so disconnected from the reality as to describe the meeting between Trump and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani as “warm and friendly”!

The clear and painful truth is that Doha does not want to see is that Trump declared frankly: “The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a financer of terrorism at a very high level.” He added that it is time to call on Qatar to stop the funding.

Although Washington singled out Qatar in 2014 as a state that is lenient on terrorism funding, this time the message was delivered differently in its timing and type by a president whose main goal is to fight terrorism – unlike his predecessor Barack Obama. This is a crystal clear political message that the worse is yet to come for Qatar whether from regional countries, the US or even other countries that will join the attempt to end its connection with terrorism.

Washington’s stricter stance on Qatar indicates that the White House supports the decision of Arab-Gulf countries to isolate Qatar or as the American channel CBC said, the US administration has finalized its position on Qatar through siding with Saudi Arabia and other Arab and Islamic countries that are committed to fighting terrorism.

Yet until this moment, Qatar does not want to take an open strategic decision to stop the funding and support of terrorist groups because it has deemed the whole affair a political one. Is Qatar aware of the mounting crisis due to its insistence on avoiding the truth instead of regaining the initiative and quickly solving its problems?!

Six days after the ties-cut, Qatari reactions have all focused on reinforcing the concept of conspiracy against it. I don’t know what Qatar has for Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and US to conspire against it. There is no single reason that would make these countries abandon their causes – and they are many – and focus on conspiring against Qatar!

The only proven conspiracy we have is the one in which its former emir and prime minister sought with Gadhafi to divide Saudi Arabia and fuel a revolt there. If Qatar is sincere in its wish to avoid strife, then it should change its behavior, build confidence and restore its credibility.

All it should do is revise its regional policies so that they become more moderate, like other countries. However, playing the victim and launching nationalist slogans will not stop the rolling snowball.

What Qatar will pay today to correct its attitude is much less than what it will pay later. The longer it takes to acknowledge and correct the problem, the greater the dues become in the 21 years of unpaid taxes.