Qatar’s tendency to punch beyond its weight

Farouq Yousuf
Farouq Yousuf
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Several countries have recently cut ties with Qatar. This decision reflects these countries’ deep hopelessness of the possibility that Qatar will reform its policies and completely give up supporting terrorism. What happened is a result of Qatar’s own acts. Following the Riyadh summit, it is no longer necessary to remind of the ambassadors’ crisis in 2014.

Everything was clear and Qatar had to take quick measures, not to exonerate itself or to temporarily not be a suspect by denying the accusations made against it in the media, but to end its relations with terrorist groups, primarily the Brotherhood.

Qatar did the opposite. I am not referring to the emir’s statements which Doha claimed were forged as the Qatari news agency, according to them, was hacked. I am referring to Qatar’s negligence of the clear and transparent conditions which Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain set in order for relations to continue on the basis of frank commitment to stances that oppose terrorism in the region.

It is naïve to say that Qatar did not understand the message. The message from the leaders of the four countries in Riyadh was very clear. They specified the mutual enemy and the regional parties that stand behind it by funding it, facilitating its movement, providing for it and supporting it and promoting it in the media.

Gulf countries have tried to desist from teaching Qatar this lesson in an attempt to protect the Qatari people from the repercussions of the critical and edgy policies which their leadership has adopted

Farouk Youssef

The Iranian approach

It was clear that Qatar was the country meant here. Its situation is the same as Iran’s which kept silent until the storm clears. This waiting though will prove to be desperate this time. What Tehran partially understood Qatar refused to understand at all and the latter did not positively deal with it.

Is it due to lack of awareness? Or has Qatar, which has for a long time sponsored extremist Islamist groups and organizations, become incapable of ending its connection with these groups? Many interpreted this connection as an attempt for Qatar to play a bigger role than its actual size.

This is where Qatar’s real complex lies. The Gulf has repeatedly tried to encourage their Qatari brothers to play this role in an appropriate and harmless manner. They were encouraged to enhance the performance of the economy and create excellence in fields such as sports, tourism and culture.

Qatar found an opportunity in the Arab Spring to intervene in the affairs of other Arab countries. Nothing prevented it from developing its relations with armed groups. It went further than that when it sought to divide roles with Iran in an attempt to create a balance between terrorist groups, which are spreading death, panic, fear and instability in the region.

As a result of these developments, Qatar, whose relations with terrorist organizations have been exposed on more than one occasion, slipped into this crisis. The recent attempts in Riyadh to help the country avoid this crisis did not yield any results. Qatar willingly chose its isolation and no one forced it into it.

Edgy policies

It may help if Qatar realizes that it is a small country blessed with a lot of wealth that must not be used to harm others. Gulf partners have tried to desist from teaching Qatar this lesson in an attempt to protect the Qatari people from the repercussions of the critical and edgy policies which their leadership has adopted.

It was expected that this Qatari adventure would end one way or another, especially when it collided with the geopolitical reality considering that it is a small and newly-established country with a small population. What no one expected, however, is for the Qatari command to commit hara-kiri by making a poor choice that Iran had made before it.

The decision to sever ties expresses despair over the possibility of Qatar reforming its policies by abandoning its support to terrorism. It also indicates the failure of Qatar’s policies of maneuvering. The game is now over.

This article is also available in Arabic.

Farouq Yousuf is an Iraqi writer based in Sweden. He writes for Lebanese, Iraqi and Gulf newspapers.

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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