The Qatari crisis is back to square one after Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah's visit to Washington, during which he met with the US president and held a tempestuous press conference.
President Donald Trump accepted Sheikh Sabah’s invitation to be part of mediating the Qatar crisis. This would initiate phase two in attempts of resolving the dispute. Assuming his role, Trump, in his distinctive style, publicly announced that Qatar should stop supporting terrorism. The emir’s decision to involve Trump is admirable. In this case, whatever concessions the Qatari government had refused to hand over to Sheikh Sabah, now they will have to deal with President Trump.
Sheikh Sabah noted that his country has suffered from Qatar’s threat. Not only by inciting its news channel Al Jazeera, but he also recalled an earlier dispute, one kept under the radar, between the two countries. The dispute revolved on Qatar’s funding of Kuwaiti opposition outside the country’s parliament house and supporting street protesters against the government.
In turn, Kuwaiti authorities were forced to show their teeth. They arrested a number of prominent protestors, stopped newspapers, closed television stations and stripped some of the Kuwaiti nationality. Most of these problems were backed by Doha’s authorities. Sheikh Sabah said publicly to Trump and the world that Kuwait has suffered from Qatar’s interventions and from its degenerate media.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain echo Kuwait’s complaints, however they have vowed to confront the source. With only a mere 90 days since the Arab quartet boycotted Qatar, to some, the crisis seems to have been an ongoing burden for decades. While not a single drop of blood was shed, Qatar swayed its people’s attention away from the major wars in the region. The wars in Syria, Yemen and Libya, instead it put its own screams in the spotlight.
Qatar’s screams faded within the last three months, unable to change the four countries’ decisions, they did not budge. The world now lives in less chaos without Qatar, but Qatar seems unable to adapt to the new circumstances. It wants to force the four countries to lift the boycott, running from one platform to another, from one organization to another, from one mediator to another.
All of Qatar’s campaigns achieved nothing. It was Qatar who broke the Kuwaiti Emir’s mediation when it could have accepted the Arab quartet’s demands. Most of the demands were already stipulated in the Riyadh Agreement of 2014 which Qatar signed three years ago in the presence of Kuwait’s Emir, only to then fail to meet the demands of the agreement.
Qatar seeks refuge in its proclaimed sovereignty. There is no sovereignty in the export, financing and incitement of violence against other states. Sovereignty may be permissible if the Qatari government incites and finances it only within its borders. But hosting and funding personalities and organizations calling for the overthrowing other countries’ regimes have serious consequences.
Qatar stands alone because everyone is bored and tired. They also hate the country’s actions and their support for extremist groups. As stated in the Arab quartet’s explanatory statement, there is a unanimity in the region against Qatar. Be certain that most of the Arab states whom are officially silent, stand with the quartet and agree that Qatar’s funding of extremist groups in their countries and the region must stop. Most of these silent countries are ready to diplomatically support the countries against Qatar by advising the US administration to stand firm against its government and more.
This article is also available in Arabic.
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