It is hard to understand someone if he doesn’t understand himself. It gets worse when that someone is a government with multiple heads and decision process speaking with many tongues and sending conflicting messages. Worse, their speech has no relations with their actions.
So you may accept what is offered in private conversation, or even public forum, only to find the very same day that those offers are fake. Promises are made to be broken, agreements are signed to be violated, and commitment, no matter how many guarantors and witnesses, cannot be trusted for even 24 hours.
Iran, Russia, and all those in between, are famous for such tactics. Al-Houthi in Yemen, for example, signed many agreements with the Yemeni government in two decades, but broke them all. They agree with you in a night negotiation session, but the next morning they will have the opposite stand. You would be excused to think they have a collective amnesia, but it is more of a culture.
I believe Qatar has a big problem — not knowing what they want. Unless they make up their mind, they won’t stop playing games and changing their stand so frequentlyDr. Khaled M. Batarfi
Guns for hire
They used to be guns for hire, with zero principles or conscious — there is no honor among thieves. So, with no regret or need for explanation they turned against their ally, ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who gave them the keys to all of Yemen, and put his loyalists in the army and tribes at their service
Iran, the mothership of this culture, is infamous for its contradictory statements, and unreliable commitments. Recently we heard different stands toward Saudi Arabia from different people. There are those who thank Saudi Arabia for a successful and safe Haj, for instance, and those who complain that we didn’t allow them political demonstration. Some threaten us with ballistic missiles that would burn all our oil fields and cities (except Makkah and Madinah!) and others wonder why would we doubt their peaceful intentions!
Not just different officials say different things, sometimes the same person would send contradictory messages. Take President Rouhani and his team for example. During the last couple of weeks, we dealt with accusations that Saudi Arabia is sponsoring all its own enemies! — Daesh (the so-called Islamic State), Al-Qaeda, etc. Days later, they extended their hands of brotherhood and friendship, calling for cooperation and good relations.
In the meanwhile, their terrorist and espionage cells are found in Saudi Arabia and the Iranian-made scuds are fired from Yemen toward our cities and towns, including Makkah. No wonder why it is so hard to understand their real positions and intentions—unless one reads their constitution, ideology and culture.
Qatar is another example of double-talk and multiple positions. During private conversations and indoor meetings, they present a totally different position than in public. They managed to draw a picture for themselves in the public mind, and hate to change it.
The problem is, the picture doesn’t reflect reality. While their public image is of a small country, but with strong, principled government, the truth is far from that beauty. It is more of scheming politicians that would cross any principle, heavenly or earthly, to realize their self interests. It doesn't matter how many die, and how much destruction their neighbors and world would suffer, as long as they get their share of fame and influence. Lies become a way of life; and cheating rules the game.
In their latest episode, Emir Tamim called Prince Muhammad Bin Salman to express his desire to solve the crisis once and for all. He showed his willingness to meet with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, to discuss the details of the 13 demands. Prince Muhammad welcomed the gesture and promised to discuss it with the other three partners.
Few minutes later, the Qatari News Agency and Al Jazeera news channel reported a different story. According to their version, it was a call requested by President Trump to discuss ways to unite our GCC front, during which the Emir agreed to a meeting of envoys to discuss ways to restart dialogue. So we are back to square one. No agreement. No acceptance of the conditions. And no summit. Just low-level discussion of how to talk!
I believe Qatar has a big problem — not knowing what they want. Unless they make up their mind, they won’t stop playing games and changing their stand so frequently. Saudi Arabia is right to demand a clear and stated position before we go forward! With Iran and company, any less is pointless!
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on September 15, 2017.
Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi journalist and writer based in Jeddah. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter: @kbatarfi.