No country in the world was as patient with Qatar’s political transgressions as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and UAE have been for the past two decades.
For 21 years, Qatar disregarded all concepts of Gulf unity and neighborly behavior. Twenty-one years and the repercussions of Qatar’s policies are worsening year after year.
The Gulf’s 21 years of patience was understood by Qatar as weakness, not wisdom of not wanting to lose a brotherly country. The three countries repeatedly exerted political and diplomatic efforts without any true response from the other party.
In 2014, the Emir of Qatar pledged and agreed to the Riyadh agreement to end his country’s harmful policies. Yet, and as usual, it didn’t commit to any of its pledges and ambassadors were withdrawn during that time.
Interference in internal affairs and creating chaos and instability became intolerable. Six countries therefore decided to cut all diplomatic relations with Qatar in an attempt to end Doha’s disastrous methods and unprecedented isolation.
The surprise did not lie in severing diplomatic relations, seen as a harsh and unavoidable solution, but in Gulf countries’ tolerance of the damage of Qatar’s foreign policy for two decades.
Qatar had exploited Saudi Arabia’s will not to lose the younger brother. The small gulf country manipulated and fooled everyone until it cut all political and brotherhood ties.
The Gulf’s 21 years of patience was understood by Qatar as weakness, not wisdom of not wanting to lose a brotherly countrySalman al-Dossary
In secret and in public
In the statement following the decision to cut ties with Qatar, Saudi Arabia said: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has taken this decisive decision as a result of grave violations committed by the authorities in Doha over the years, in secret and in public. These violations were aimed at dividing Saudi ranks, creating incitement against the state and infringing on its sovereignty, as well as harboring terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at destabilizing the region.”
How terrible what Qatar has done! How patient Saudi Arabia has been! Had Iran done that, no one would have justified this aggression, yet it was Qatar who did that.
Even though it easily can, Saudi Arabia never intervened in the internal affairs of Qatar. So, how can Doha defy logic and do that? The question is whether Qatar will be able to return to the Gulf fold or not.
One way to go
This time, Qatar only has one way to go, while all other roads are blocked. The real and honest return hinges not only on a change in policies, which is possible but temporary, but actual and necessary change should take place in the main policy that Doha has adopted. It believes that it should be the most important state in world, tossing aside geopolitical basics.
This strategy made Qatar embrace terrorist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS and al-Qaeda. It promoted their schemes and rhetoric, allowing it to commit grave violations against the sovereignty of fraternal countries.
Sooner or later, this strategy will end and Qatar will not be able to defy logic and reason for long. The decisions to sever all ties and close borders and cancel aviation licenses will be enough because Qatar knows it can’t exist without its surrounding. It is quite aware of the very high tax it can’t pay if it chooses to manipulate history and geography.
Hopefully, the brotherly country Qatar will learn the lesson this time as money doesn’t buy geography or history. Ambitions are accessed through doors, not keyholes. Countries can manipulate a little and contradict a lot, but they cannot hold out against the facts and reality. A country can’t be isolated from its neighbors and surrounding.
It is true that the severing of relations this time has been the most damaging to Doha in history, but it is a chance for it to wake up, return to its senses and change its political strategy.
If Doha did that tomorrow, then it will be welcomed with open arms before open borders.
This article was first published on Asharq Al-Awsat.
Salman Al-Dosary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.