Those familiar with Qatar’s history with its neighbors know that finding a solution is easy – unlike what is being said and reported. I will tell you what the solution is in the end of my article.
First, however, I will sum up the history of the crisis. It all started at the beginning of the 1990s when the Qatari dispute with Bahrain over islands emerged again. In 1995, the coup in Doha happened and the new emir, Hamad, rejected Saudi Arabia’s mediation and insisted to go to the International Court of Justice.
This was in Bahrain’s interest as the verdict allowed it to gain control of most of the disputed land. If Qatar accepted the mediation of King Fahd (may he rest in peace) it would have gained more, at least half of the land.
Qatar’s government then turned its eyes on Saudi Arabia and renewed its disputes over new border positions after the first dispute was resolved following the mediation of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as Saudi Arabia gave up to Qatar’s demands in 1992.
Doha then stirred a new dispute that was settled upon mutual consent in 2001. Qatar then broke its promises and launched inciting battles through its media outlets. It adopted figures who are hostile to Riyadh and supported al-Qaeda and its leader Osama Bin Laden who called for changing the regime in Saudi Arabia by force.
Despite the reconciliations, Doha continued to fund and support opposition groups that want to topple the Saudi and Bahraini governments. Following the Arab Spring revolutions in 2011, Qatar expanded its inciting activity and targeted the UAE by supporting opposition against it. It then focused on Egypt in such an unprecedented and obvious manner vowing to topple the regime of Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.
There are conditions to restore relations to normal but this time these four countries will not accept the same reconciliation approach adopted in 2013 and 2014 when Qatar signed a vow that consists of around 20 items in Riyadh and only implemented oneAbdulrahman al-Rashed
Change via democracy
It may seem understandable if Qatar’s government itself accepts to change via democracy or force but the problem is that it’s the least tolerant Gulf country. It sentenced a Qatari poet to 15 years in prison because of a poem he wrote. In the end, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt said enough is enough and they severed ties with Qatar.
There are conditions to restore relations to normal but this time these four countries will not accept the same reconciliation approach adopted in 2013 and 2014 when Qatar signed a vow that consists of around 20 items in Riyadh and only implemented one.
Truth is, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt can live in peace without any relations with Qatar but it seems that the latter cannot bear the severance of ties. This could be seen from its uproar after last week’s statement to cut ties with it was issued.
The question is how would it be possible to solve the problem and how can Qatar exit this dilemma? It wants to continue adopting its old approach by including mediators and making vows and perhaps altering its work but then resuming its attempts to topple the four countries’ regimes or incite against them.
In its last Riyadh agreement, Qatar pledged to put an end to the incitement machine. It did in fact have Al-Jazeera channels calm down for the past three years but it secretly established alternative television channels and websites to assume that old task.
Qatar excluded a number of Gulf opposition members from Doha but it had them settle in Turkey and London and funded them and supported them via secret networks they established inside these countries!
While dealing with the current crisis, and as per its same old approach, it sought the help of Kuwait’s emir Sheikh Sabah but these countries have learnt the lesson and said they are determined to resume cutting ties with Qatar and living in peace without it, adding that they will work to end everything that’s related to it and destroy its internal networks.
Doha has two choices to resolve this crisis: Either fully give in to the demands of the four countries or live in isolation from its surroundings.
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.