MIDDLE EAST

Would Qatari crisis last two years?

Those who were betting on a short-lived Qatari crisis have lost. Everyone who thought that Qatar’s efforts for international pressure would be fruitful, was proven wrong. Three months on, the four states’ stance hasn’t changed, and is as firm as it was on June 5. Since day one, the ball has been put in Qatar’s court.

The message has been clear: If Qatar wants to restore ties, end the boycott and open the border, all it should do is implement what was handwritten by Qatar’s emir in the Riyadh Agreement in 2014. However, it is up to Doha if it decides to face the boycott and lose its interests with the four states.

Also read: Qatar bans its pilgrims, Saudi Arabia welcomes them

Qatar chose confrontation, intransigence, escalation and the failure to implement what was requested from it out of its assumption that the crisis would soon end even if it disregarded its pledges. Yet this didn’t happen and time wasn’t in Doha’s favor. As three months passed without achieving its goals, maybe a year or two would also pass and Qatar would discover that it has become the only isolated state and all its bets are gone with the wind.

“It is okay if the Qatari crisis lasted two years,” said Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. The boycotting states decided to cease the harmful Qatari policies only after they geared themselves for a long-term boycott out of their conviction that Doha’s attitude won’t be easily straightened and it won’t meet its pledges overnight.

As it has so far skilfully done, Doha will continue to procrastinate. Only time will reveal where Qatari interests will lie. Did Turkey and Iran really compensate the Gulf loss? Did Doha benefit from marketing itself in a trivial way among western capitals to urge them to pressure for lifting the boycott?

Qatar chose confrontation, intransigence, escalation and the failure to implement what was requested from it out of its assumption that the crisis would soon end

Salman Al-Dosary

100-day mark

The answer is clear, as the crisis nears the 100-day mark, Qatar continues to see it as its main political, economic and social cause. In contrast, the four states haven’t lost anything from crisis but consider the Qatari file to be among a dozen others put on their agenda. Qatar is more than welcome to step back, but if it holds onto its stance and rejects to abide by its commitments, then it is free to do so.

We can say that the world has forgotten the Qatari crisis. It appeared in the headlines for some time, then states resumed their businesses by looking after their interests. The foreign ministers of US, France, UK and Germany toured the region to carry out diplomatic missions with allied states, then they left. Nothing more was done.

Also read: Sabotaging this year’s Hajj: Tehran and ‘a few’ in Doha

Gradually, Qatar woke up on an ugly truth that it is facing a real crisis unilaterally. It has plenty of solutions, but procrastination or resorting for Western help are not among them. Pursuits to strike alliances with Turkey and Iran didn’t compensate its stalled interests. Even the “blockage” lie didn’t work out. It rather unveiled Qatar’s naivety – here you see Qatar bragging that 35 percent of Middle Eastern trade goes through the state’s “besieged” port.

Amidst the current Qatari regime policy, it seems there is no hope in resolving the crisis soon. Let Qatar stick to its stance and let there be a protracted crisis. Sometimes, only time is capable of resolving complex issues. Qatar is the only damaged party – its losses are increasing but only these losses will urge Doha to meet its obligations.

This article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat.

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Salman Aldosary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. He tweets @SalmanAldosary.

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Last Update: Friday, 8 September 2017 KSA 12:30 - GMT 09:30
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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