Hope fades for Qatar’s long wait

Sawsan Al Shaer

Published: Updated:

It’s been more than a week since US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Saudi Arabia. He has returned to the US after being reassured that the support his country needs from Gulf countries, whether it’s logistical or military, is available to maintain regional security without a need to end the boycott with Qatar.

US-Gulf security ties

This US conviction is due to Saudi Arabia’s astuteness in keeping the Qatari participation in the Gulf Shield’s military drills, which the US participated in, and in not minding American presence at Al Udeid Air Base in Doha. This is what worried Americans the most as everything else is finalized and well-arranged. There is a high level of coordination between Gulf and American troops and everyone is on stand-by for any kind of cooperation as the boycott has had no effect at all in this sphere.

Pompeo thus returned to the US convinced that the boycott will not affect American interests in the region, as the issue with Qatar is an internal matter among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, and that if it has to be resolved, it must be an intra-GCC solution. What’s important is that this boycott does not influence any security cooperation or coordination between GCC states and US troops, whether on air, sea or ground. Everyone, including those who disagree with each other, agree not to involve this dispute with any security interests with the US. This approach also serves their interests. It seems Pompeo is convinced that the row between the boycotting countries and Qatar is outside the scope of US-Gulf interest. Therefore, no statements seeking an end to the boycott were made. The maximum that was said to address the dispute with Qatar during the press conference, which Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir held with his American counterpart Pompeo, was an American “desire” for Gulf unity to confront challenges and threats surrounding the region. We share this US desire with Pompeo, however what we disagree with here is that this time we insist it being on a sound and strong basis. Apart from it, the dispute with Qatar was not on the agenda of bilateral talks.

Qatar’s euphoria peters out

Those who followed up with the euphoria that Qatar had raised during and after Pompeo’s visit would have thought that the US had intimidated the kingdom and that everyone in Saudi Arabia was afraid and that the next day they would announce lifting the “blockade,” as the Qatari news channel put it! This scenario was based on a New York Times report that said Pompeo told Saudi Arabia “enough is enough” and that the Saudis “must stop Qatar blockade.” This account supposedly came from an American official who is not authorized to be named.

Pompeo has returned to the US convinced that the boycott of Qatar is an internal matter of the GCC

However, we did not see anything close to this report. The statements made by Pompeo, the White House, the spokesperson of the US Department of State did not show any sign of this being true. This was not even conveyed in the press conference held between Pompeo and Jubeir. On the contrary, we sensed deep respect and appreciation from the US for the kingdom, and the word ‘Qatar’ was not even mentioned!

Qatar’s last hope?

So what will Qatar do now especially that this visit may have been its last hope over the possibility of American “pressure” on the boycotting countries? If Al-Jazeera television channel reflects how the Qatari regime thinks then what lack of perception does it suffer from? What naiveté is this? How long does it need to wake up and end its crisis and tragedy? How many messages, visits and new attempts will it take for it to understand the reality of the situation?

Does the Qatari regime, which dreams of the end of its nightmare, still hope things will be better after Trump’s presidential term ends? Does it rely on waiting another year and a half in the hope that a new Democratic administration will come to finish fulfilling the dream brought about by Obama to topple countries and restore his glories and his suspicious role in this project?

The current administration has exhausted its attempts, and more importantly, it’s convinced that this local dispute will not influence American interests and will not affect joint military cooperation.

If this is the Qatari regime’s only hope, then it might as well wait. The completion of a year and a half is nigh, if you wait for it.

This article is also available in Arabic.


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.
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