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Will Qatar save itself or ‘the project’?

Sawsan Al Shaer

Published: Updated:

The quartet alliance, which consists of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, has gone beyond defending itself against the “new Middle East project” and has entered the phase of arranging the ranks inside the countries, which some powers have schemed to topple. The alliance has thus adopted an offensive approach against the project and is no longer only defending itself.

The biggest mistake Qatar is committing now is that it is trying to save “the project” instead of saving itself as it thinks it is the target here. Truth is, Qatar’s role in redrawing the map of the new Middle East and toppling Arab regimes was secondary, i.e. it was an extra, as it only played the role of the funder. The project almost succeeded as major Arab regimes fell and countries collapsed.

It was all going as planned if it hadn’t been for the resistance to the rebellion, which began in Bahrain in 2011 and then in Egypt on June 30, 2013 and in 2015 in Yemen via the Decisive Storm Operation. The devastating blow to “the project” came from the quartet alliance against the funder, which is Qatar in this case.

The alliance exposed Qatar’s role and put it in a defensive position for the first time. Doha thus thought it was the target and that the best way to defend itself is to hold on to the project and link itself to it – a move it will later realize is like tightening the noose around its neck.

Groups which Qatar funded are being replaced by others who are allies of the quartet alliance

Sawsan Al Shaer

A new phase

We are now facing a new phase. Qatar will further drown itself if it does not comprehend the changes on the ground and it will be difficult for it to save itself. The quartet began a new strategic phase, in the beginning of July, in which it is taking on “the project”. As a result, key players such as the US, Iran and Turkey, and new players such as Russia and the EU, had to reassess the situation as a result of the failure of mediations and independent moves made by the alliance.

The four countries are now certain that the policy of dissociation from internal conflicts in Arab countries and the policy of not interfering in their affairs left the door open for all powers – except themselves – to intervene in their own domestic affairs. They also realized that the collapse of some Arab regimes have created a vacuum that helped others interfere and target them with a divisive project.

The region has witnessed unprecedented Saudi-Emirati-Egyptian activities since the beginning of July. These activities have led to reshuffling the deck in Iraq, Libya and Gaza. Instead of closing in on themselves, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt took action to impose their agenda and interests in areas which they had preferred to dissociate themselves from their conflicts for some time.

On July 20, Chief of Staff of Saudi Arabia General Abdul Rahman Al Banyan met with his Iraqi counterpart and Joseph Votel, Commander of the US Central Command in Iraq, to discuss reopening Saudi-Iraqi borders. The meeting also witnessed the agreement to reopen Jordanian-Syrian borders and Jordanian-Iraqi borders under American sponsorship. These agreements cut off the Iranian route inside Iraq and Syria and imposed a Saudi presence in Iraq.

Gaza and Libya

Also in July, Hamas and Egyptian officials held a meeting to reopen the Rafah border crossing and the UAE will thus have a role inside Gaza. The two Libyan rivals, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and Fayez Sarraj, met in Abu Dhabi to put away disputes after the victories which Haftar achieved as a result of Egyptian air support. They met again last week in Paris and held talks hosted by President Macron. We are thus facing a new phase during which new players seem to be emerging on the scene.

Groups which Qatar funded are being replaced by others who are allies of the quartet alliance. Qatar is suffering multiple blows because the alliance is not concerned about Qatar itself as much as it is concerned in ending its project and redrawing the region’s map according to people’s initiatives and not according to plans devised by intelligence apparatuses.

Even Iran realized the magnitude of these changes and began to reposition itself inside Iraq. Whatever comes will be at its own (Iran’s) expense so it began to introduce new Iraqi faces and asked its agents to change their hats as it knows the situation is now going in the opposite direction. Iran may have served these players’ strategies in the past but it has now become a burden.

Qatar has not realized any of this, and it is now a burden on these players. The price to stay by its side will thus become costly. This is what the quartet alliance has realized so they boycotted it and decided to address the root of the problem. They began to work to suspend the project. However, instead of thinking of saving itself, Qatar is thinking of saving the project!

This article is also available in Arabic.
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Sawsan Al Shaer is a Bahraini writer and journalist. She tweets under the handle @sawsanalshaer.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.