The problem of the four Arab countries that decided to confront Qatar is not in making Doha meet their 13 demands but it’s rather about Qatar’s credibility and guaranteeing what it says, signs and pledges.
We do not know of a single agreement which Qatar signed and respected. Even with the mediation of someone as significant and influential as the American president, it will be no surprise if Qatar later violates what it pledges in terms of ending its interferences in its neighbors’ affairs and its support of extremist and armed groups.
Doha’s policy has been based on violating pledges and moving around them. It thinks this is a smart move to evade pressures and direct confrontations. An example is what happened in 2013 when it went to Riyadh and signed an agreement with guarantees from the mediator at the time, Kuwait’s emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. Qatar only wanted to calm the anger of Saudi King Abdullah, may he rest in peace, after complaints due to its interferences. Doha signed the agreement and made pledges but few months later, Saudi authorities found out that Qatar has not stopped supporting the groups which target it and has not ended domestic incitement against it. After evidence was put forward to the Qatari negotiators, the latter claimed that the agreement did not include these details and things then took a turn for the worse. Kuwait’s emir mediated with Qatar’s emir who reiterated his stance in the presence of Gulf leaders in November 2014. According to the secret document leaked by CNN, Qatar’s emir pledged not to support the opposition in Gulf countries, not to shelter the opposition or grant its members Qatari nationalities and to stop funding armed terrorist groups in Syria and Yemen, i.e. ISIS and al-Nusra Front, because they target Gulf countries as well. Qatar also pledged to keep Muslim Brotherhood members away from Qatar, close training institutions, known as the Academy of Change and which trains youths from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries on opposition work, and stop its channel Al-Jazeera from inciting against Gulf countries.
Qatar did not respect everything it pledged. It prevented Al Jazeera channel from targeting Gulf countries and it did in fact silence the opposition on the channel; however, this was a deceitful move as it established and funded alternative media platforms for the opposition.
Qatar did not only deceive Gulf countries. It previously pledged to the US government and Israel to stop supporting Hamas officials but it continued to fund them outside Qatar. As for Bahrain, Qatar continued to lie about its role there in supporting the opposition despite the multiple evidence against it.
Do not be fooled by these stances which may seem dogmatic or political. Qatar used its guests when it needed to. Three months ago, it handed Saudi Arabia one of the opposition figures in an attempt to calm the situation. Before that, it handed Russia the murderers of the Chechen leader who was an asylum seeker and who was assassinated in Doha’s streets. Doha was afraid after the murderers were tried and it quickly released them and sent them to Moscow.
Although it’s committed to supporting fascist Islamic national and Islamic groups, Qatar itself is a regime that does not have any morals or principles or an ideology. It uses other groups to strengthen its political value in the region – a value which is actually the product of illusions of greatness.
How can one trust a regime that harbors all these contradictions? It hosts an American base, the Muslim Brotherhood, extremist Salafist groups, an Israeli office and leaders of extremist Iraqi and Palestinian groups! It uses its official media outlets to call for jihad against the Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan and at the same time, American jets fly from its territories to fight those meeting the calls of jihad.
It’s normal for a regime that harbors this cocktail of contradictions to adopt deceit as a policy and sign pledges and then violate them. It’s also very normal for no one to trust it. This is the upcoming challenge as how can we guarantee what Doha’s authorities pledge, especially that immediately following American President Donald Trump’s mediation, it began to distort facts related to the negotiations over an agreement?
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
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