The affair that wasn’t present during the UN’s annual political season and its activities this year but was present last year is the quartet boycott of Qatar. It seems that we are in a state of harmony and reconciliation with the new reality and an acceptance of the fait accompli.
In New York, we forgot the “issue” if it had not been for a question asked to Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and to which he replied: “It’s been 15 months since our boycott of Qatar, and we can go on (like that) for 15 years.”
No one remembered Qatar’s crisis here except Qatar’s representatives. Even the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash noted in a tweet: “Qatar’s crisis was completely absent from the interests of the international community at the General Assembly in New York.” He added: “Qatar wasted hefty amounts on public relations companies and lawyers without (achieving) any results worth mentioning.”
The boycott is actually more than comfortable as it is very beneficial for Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. These countries have suffered from Qatar’s attempts to create opposition within them and fund foreign activity aimed against themAbdulrahman al-Rashed
A comfortable solution
What about the four countries, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain? The current situation is perfect as peace came following this complete boycott of the small neighbor that has been bothering them with problems and conspiracies for more than 20 years. The situation is very comfortable because their loss due to the boycott is almost zero while Qatar’s loss is huge on the political and economic levels.
The boycott is actually more than comfortable as it is very beneficial for Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. These countries have suffered from Qatar’s attempts to create opposition within them and fund foreign activity aimed against them. This is in addition to the strenuous efforts to break up the three countries’ societies and institutions. Most of the symbols of extremist groups in Saudi Arabia, religious or civil figures and individuals, go to Qatar and receive financial, media and organizational support from it, and some of them did this publicly without any fear or shame whatsoever.
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Despite its pledges to stop, Doha’s authorities continued to generously support ideas and activities that sow divisions on the political, sectarian and tribal levels. All this stopped as a result of the boycot, and all that is left is its hostile activity outside these countries.
The comprehensive boycott of Qatar actually shows us that it is much more than a diplomatic expression of anger as this boycott played an effective role in paralyzing Qatar’s activities inside the three countries. As ties have been cut, the citizens of these countries are prohibited from going to Qatar or using its airways or airports or banks or dealing with its institutions or with those who deal with them. Hence, the sources of domestic problems and strife were dried out.
With Qatar’s absence, or with enforcing this absence to be accurate, Saudi Arabia succeeded in implementing many social reforms and fighting religious extremism. This proved that cutting the Qatari link cancelled the hired opposition voices and movements. It also proved that the Saudi society is mature and prepared for positive change when there are no more foreign interferences, primarily by Qatar whose policy incited and polarized masterminds and politically hired them to serve its interests.
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This explains the anger of Qatari leaders due to this boycott and the stopping of its movement. Qatar is angry because it saw that its massive efforts for years in supporting these groups, individuals and arrangements inside Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE is being destroyed. Therefore, it tried by all means possible to impose restoring relations on the three neighbors so it can resume its project, however, the boycott remained in place.
There is now unprecedented calm in Bahrain, and the activities of these extremist groups we’ve complained about in Saudi Arabia and the UAE have disappeared.
After Qatar accepted the truth and reality of the boycott, then perhaps it would spend what’s left of its money on buying more hotels and football clubs, and we can all live in peace.
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.