MIDDLE EAST

Qatar’s turtle-like policy

Qatar’s diplomatic way of dealing with its crisis with its neighbors is similar to what the turtle does when it closes its eyes when it senses danger. After 39 days of the decision to boycott it, Qatar, has only progressed one step from among 100 other steps that are required from it.

It signed a memorandum of understanding with the US to combat funding terrorism. It’s a small step, which it stalled for long, and it confirmed that Qatar still has a long journey ahead before getting to the other side. Qatar’s diplomacy was exposed when the details of the Riyadh agreement documents were revealed.

Doha wanted to say to the world via its ally the US that it’s progressing in combating terrorism. Perhaps this is true on the formal level but how long does Doha need to progress in resolving its crisis?

If Qatar continues to deal with matters like that and pretend to be clever while adopting this turtle-like policy as more surprises lie ahead, then it does not seem there is light in the end of the tunnel.

Suffering party

If Doha desires to prolong the crisis, then so be it. The party suffering from this boycott is Qatar. The country whose land borders have been closed is Qatar. The one suffering on the economic, social, political and security fronts is Qatar. Even the one who is complaining and speaking out loud is Qatar.

None of this affects the four boycotting countries which have the patience to achieve their goals and amend Doha’s behavior. The four boycotting countries confirmed in a statement on Tuesday that they’ve taken measures against Doha’s authorities because of the latter’s continuous and diverse “activities in supporting and funding terrorism, embracing extremists, spreading hate speech and extremism and interfering in other countries’ internal affairs.”

They added that “these activities must completely end in implementation of the legitimate and fair demands.” As long as these activities continue and as long as Doha does not want to put an end to them and implement the required commitments, then it must bear a boycott that may last for months or years. Let’s recall that many regimes have favored intransigence over logic and consent. A quick look at these regimes gives us an idea of where Qatar is headed.

Relying on western pressure, particularly by the US and Britain, the way Doha is doing, is no more than a false Qatari political calculation as these countries perform their roles as allies and friends to resolve a political crisis but in the end their diplomacy will have limits.

Relying on western pressure, particularly by the US and Britain, the way Doha is doing, is no more than a false Qatari political calculation as these countries perform their roles as allies and friends to resolve a political crisis but in the end their diplomacy will have limits

Salman al-Dossary

International law

It’s true that foreign ministers are performing their diplomatic roles but it’s wrong to expect these countries to pressure others and this is for a very simple reason: the four boycotting countries’ measures have so far not violated international law and they did not violate another country’s sovereignty.

All what these countries did was suspend the interests of another state on their territories. Therefore, no state, no matter how strong it is, can force these countries to alter their stance. Western countries also know that despite all their diplomatic efforts, the solution must be reached by Gulf states themselves.

The White House even stated that the Qatari-Gulf row is a “family issue,” and it actually is. The British foreign minister lowered the great expectations of his visit when he stated in Kuwait that it is not probable to reach a solution right away and that the crisis will last for long.

A US Secretary of State spokesperson said on the eve ahead of his Gulf tour that it is early “to expect reaching results,” adding “we are months away from what we think will be an actual solution.”

The Cairo meeting

The four boycotting countries appreciate the efforts of the American Secretary of State, as we have seen in their meetings in Jeddah on Wednesday, and this depends on Washington’s capability to contribute to a solution that’s based on the six principles announced at the Cairo meeting and which represent the major points that Qatar is expected to commit to in order to implement the rest of the demands.

Qatar’s “camouflage” move, if that’s accurate, of signing a memorandum of understanding exposed its false allegations that it was fighting terrorism. If it truly was, then why didn’t it sign the MoU, which has been proposed for years and only signed after the four countries boycotted it?

The same agreement, and not just the MoU, was signed by other countries a while back but Doha had refused to sign it until now after the four countries’ pressures yielded results.

Doha thus seeks to market its recent stance and attain a hefty price for it from Washington. Qatar always misses the fact that it will resort to countries in the East and the West, go to the US and seek its help but it will return to Riyadh to resolve its crisis.

This article is also available in Arabic.
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Salman Aldosary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

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Last Update: Thursday, 13 July 2017 KSA 13:00 - GMT 10:00
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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