Qatar and the opposing Arab quartet: Why the standoff will prolong

Ahmad al-Farraj

Published: Updated:

The meeting of the foreign ministers of the anti-terror quartet countries — Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt — in Manama was decisive. Their readiness to start talks with Doha if it accepts their condition is related to details and does not mean they backed down. It actually proves to some western countries that Qatar is still confused and contradictory and conveys to these countries that their soft positions regarding boycotting Qatar will not resolve the problem of Qatar’s support of terrorism. Qatar is actually exploiting these countries’ stances, which cannot be understood.

These countries have spoken for years about their willingness to combat terrorism which they suffered from during the past years. Despite that, they did not make up their mind about standing by the anti-terror quartet, which has solid evidence that convicts Qatar of supporting terrorist and extremist entities and individuals.

The anti-terror quartet foreign ministers did not just call on Qatar to hold talks but also sent a message via the UAE’s foreign minister who said escalatory measures will be taken against Qatar if it does not give up its intransigence and if it refuses to accept the alliance’s conditions. This means that the anti-terror quartet prefers to end the crisis but it will not give up on any of its conditions and will actually escalate the matter.

When Western interests clash with the interests of Saudi Arabia and its allies, our interests simply come first. We will not submit to any blackmail no matter what the circumstance are.

Ahmad al-Farraj

It seems we’re headed towards escalation as Qatar continues to be arrogant and seeks to escalate the crisis by causing problems and fighting a fierce war through the media, through either Al Jazeera or social media platforms or Western media outlets and writers such as David Hearst who has been alleged to live off Qatari money for years.

Qatar knows its crimes?

I’ve written many articles stating that Qatar’s rulers know the magnitude of the crimes they’ve committed against the countries of the so-called Arab Spring and know that their support of terrorism will not go unpunished and that the punishment will be severe if they accept the alliance’s conditions. Therefore, they want to complicate matters and prolong the crisis as they think it will provide them with a lifeline in the end.

However, they are delusional here because the alliance’s countries did not decide to boycott Qatar and then simply retreat and they cannot just retreat under the pressure of influential parties whom Qatar empowers itself through. The alliance’s politicians made it very clear that they will not back down. Western countries saw how the Saudi kingdom made decisions that oppose western interests – such as late King Abdullah’s stance when he stood in Barack Obama’s face and took his historical decision to support Egypt’s army and its people against the Muslim Brotherhood.

When Western interests clash with the interests of Saudi Arabia and its allies, our interests simply come first. We will not submit to any blackmail no matter what the circumstance are. So will Qatar back off? Or resume this rhetoric thus forcing the quartet countries to escalate? It’s clear that Doha will continue to be arrogant; the crisis will thus prolong and Doha will lose out in the end.

This article was first published in Arabic.

Dr Ahmad al-Farraj is a Saudi writer with al-Jazirah daily. He holds a Masters degree in literature from the University of Indiana and a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Michigan. He was the Dean of the Arabic Language Institute in King Saud University and a member of the university’s council. He tweets under @amhfarraj

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