MIDDLE EAST

Why has Qatar chosen the option of defiance?

Qatar has adopted one concept for its approach while responding to the four Arab countries that have decided to boycott it: do whatever it can to fail their plan and force them to reconcile with it.

It redirected itself towards Iran and restored relations with Hezbollah. It’s funding Houthi militias in Yemen and hostile Islamic extremist groups that oppose the boycotting countries. It also supports the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) and wants to criminalize Saudi Arabia by accusing it of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

It is pushing international organizations to hold Saudi Arabia accountable at the UN Security Council and the American Congress for its military activity in Yemen – keep in mind that Qatar itself was part of the coalition in Yemen. Doha is also paying huge amounts of money to anyone who speaks out against the anti-terror quartet.

Also read: Qatar’s Emir Tamim: We are comfortable with our growing Iran relations

Some may ask: Why do we denounce Qatar for doing so when it is defending itself and when the quartet actually started the crisis by boycotting it? It is true that we denounce what Doha is doing but we are not at all surprised as this is how it secretly operated earlier. Doha, however, is now openly targeting these countries, and it has also escalated their activity against them.

Hostility and confrontation which Doha has opted for is not the only option as there was also the option to accept reality and co-exist with it. Qatar and the anti-terror quartet – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates – had three options to choose from since the crisis erupted between them.

It is true that we denounce what Doha is doing but we are not at all surprised as this is how it secretly operated earlier

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

The three options

The first option is to accept conditions and rearrange relations based on guaranteed interests. The problem will thus end and we would all live through a stable phase based on mutual respect and not interfering in each other’s affairs. The second option, which Qatar could have chosen, was to boycott others, like the anti-terror quartet did, and just manage its affairs without them.

The third and most difficult option, and which Qatar has chosen, is to declare enmity and launch a war by confronting the four countries via international organizations and governments, building alliances, sealing military deals, funding the four countries’ rivals and inciting against them through every available platform.

Doha’s behavior is not surprising. This is what it has been doing for 20 years and it still is. Qatar thinks it can impose its views on other countries regardless of their orientation and capabilities. Qatar has also paid huge sums of money to see this through. However, isn’t its concern justified? Can Qatar’s command really go to bed every night and rest assured that no one will climb Doha’s walls and take over power?

What Qatar is actually doing is provocation and antagonism. Its hostile activity against these four countries may force them to climb the walls on one dark night or support those with ambitions, and they are many. The other truth is that no one wants to impose change by force, unlike what the Qatar regime is alleging.

Also read: Qatar’s characteristic obstinacy and Iran’s ‘honor’

This is due to several reasons, as for example changing regimes and arranging coups gains the countries behind them a bad reputation. Besides, if the quartet really wanted to stage a coup or an invasion, it would not have boycotted it and put Qatar security forces on alert 24/7. Those angry at Qatar could have simply not sparked a battle and then simply seized Doha in the dark within two hours.

The royal family, which used to conspire during tea sessions to topple regimes in the region and intimidate governments, including the quartet’s, is terrified, like we’ve never seen it before. This fear of a “justified” revenge pushed it to scream out and appeal for help from every state, especially that now it’s been distanced and belittled. It has been spending hefty amounts of money, like nothing we have ever seen before. The result, however, will be as I have written before; it will submit and sign, maybe behind closed doors.

I think Qatar could have tried to live in isolation without Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain. It could have been best friends with 200 other countries, instead of being reckless and attacking the quartet everywhere. This behavior will eventually lead to bankruptcy and make others lose respect toward it. It may even provoke its rivals to do far more.

This article is also available in Arabic.
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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.

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Last Update: Friday, 6 October 2017 KSA 10:29 - GMT 07:29
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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