Last week, the Qatari government signed a deal to buy 36 F-15 fighter planes which are one of the best fighter jets in the world. Doha will thus possess a large air force in its hangars. In November 2016, it sealed a deal to buy 72 fighter planes of the same brand. Qatar’s problem is that it has a large air force that consists of superior jets but it does not have enough space for its pilots to practice. Its airspace has decreased after Saudi Arabia and Bahrain closed their air and land routes. Therefore, Doha no longer has enough space for its jets to practice, unless it wants to seek Iran’s help or travel afar to train.
Threats against Qatar will not be deterred by F-15 jets because Qatar is not confronting a military war. What is going on is severance of political, social and economic ties which Doha will not be able to bear.
Doha’s authorities are now complaining of the pressures which Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are practicing against it after its former emir, Tamim’s father, sabotaged the region.
The comfortable father emir managed battles via the phone and from afar while resting reassured that these Arab governments will not dare punish his country for what he has done against them over the years. But nothing comes without a price.
Paying the price
These four countries, i.e. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE, want Qatar to pay the price for what it is doing to them if Doha insists on adopting an opposing political project. I think Qatar may continue to bite its nails for few months but it will not be able to bear the pain of severing relations like Iran does.
In the end, Qatar will back down and give up on the opposition parties it funds. It will shut down most of the media outlets it created in the past three years when it evaded its commitments in the Riyadh agreement.
Some of Doha’s problems can be solved. For example, they can import fruits and vegetables from Europe, meat from Australia and dairy products from Turkey, and they would pay more money to get these by plane. However, there are problems which Doha cannot solve through money or developed means of transportation. Confidence in the political system will shake. As threats and costs increase, Qatar’s government will not be able to reassure its citizens and residents or end the tensions which affected them and major companies.Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Some of Doha’s problems can be solved. For example, they can import fruits and vegetables from Europe, meat from Australia and dairy products from Turkey, and they would pay more money to get these by plane.
However, there are problems which Doha cannot solve through money or developed means of transportation. Confidence in the political system will shake. As threats and costs increase, Qatar’s government will not be able to reassure its citizens and residents or end the tensions which affected them and major companies.
In the last two weeks since ties were cut with Qatar, the government tried to reassure its citizens and residents by propagating false news that claim disputes are about to be solved. At some point, it forged statements in support of it and attributed some of them to American officials, including to the US President Donald Trump. It exaggerated talks about the significance of mediations that failed and repeated the news to reassure its citizens that the American military base will remain in Qatar.
Two days ago, fake news broadcast by Qatari governmental media outlets said American troops carried out joint maneuvers with Qatari troops. The Pentagon had to issue a statement denying this piece of news.
People in Qatar began to realize the bitter truth that their government got them involved in battles which have nothing to do with them. They realized that the crisis will prolong, the boycott will restrain them, disputes may worsen and relations may further collapse.
Meanwhile, countries harmed by Qatar’s policies said they made up their mind and will make Qatar pay a high price as long as it wants to threaten their security and stability.
All the tricks which Doha resorted to have failed, such as attempting to drive a wedge between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi and inciting the US against Saudi Arabia. It failed to awaken and activate social media and traditional media users and voices which it had hired in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE as the latter’s governments stood up against them and blocked all of Qatar’s inciting media outlets.
Saudi, Egyptian, Bahraini and Emirati governments are also monitoring financial transactions, communications and everything which they suspect Qatar has anything to do with. Practically, they have obstructed everything which Doha’s authorities have invested in inside their countries.
Above all that, activity is now counter-productive. The attack is now against Qatar and against parties affiliated with it. This time, the crisis will not end with kisses and hugs as per the usual Arab way. This is why Doha has to think well as the case against it is aggravating.
Some countries which have not joined or revealed support to punish Doha’s government are as enthusiastic to the Saudi, Egyptian, Bahraini and Emirati measures and are willing to support them.
The majority of the region’s countries agree that the Qatari regime trespassed all limits, caused great destruction, threatened the region’s entire security and aided terrorist groups and hostile countries like Iran. Therefore, these countries together will support targeting Qatar until it ceases it evil practices and raises the white flag.
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