There was a lot of smoke and gas around the breaking of ties with Qatar by Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt and some half a dozen other countries. The mainly western Press generated most of that commotion. The long overdue action was never meant to lay a siege around Qatar.
The move was inspired by a sense of self-protection by them – especially by the three countries that are part of the Gulf Cooperation Council which also includes Qatar and which are geographically closest to it.
There was a low-key action against Qatar by the same countries in 2014 as well, lasting about eight months, but it was not widely discussed since it was more of a rap on Doha’s knuckles and its ramifications were not as widely evident as this time round.
But on discovering that Doha was in no mood to see reason, a sense of self-preservation finally prompted the aggrieved countries to act in a forceful manner.
The reasons are many and have been discussed threadbare in the media. Qatar has offered sanctuary to high-profile figures and outfits labelled extremists or terrorist or both by many countries. These include Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, Taliban and certain elements in Al Qaeda.
Qatar has provided financial aid and in one case a ransom in excess of a billion dollars to the henchmen allegedly with allegiance to the Islamic State and Hezbollah. It has provided aid to pro-Assad factions in Syria. It has also continued to justify its hobnobbing with Iran.
Here are things Qatar’s friend Iran has done:
- openly threatened Bahrain over many years
- Iranian ministers and officials claimed Bahrain as Iran’s territory many times
- aided Bahrain-based anti-government outfits through cash and weapons
- carried out espionage activity in Kuwait
- occupied three islands belonging to the UAE for many decades
- countenanced arson attacks of the Saudi embassy and consulates in Iran
Qatar itself has used its TV channel Al-Jazeera to denigrate, humiliate and insult the countries which have now finally chosen to act against it. And repeated and consistent attempts by those countries to act against these activities have had no result.
But the diplomatic and other actions have been taken not to punish Qatar but to put pressure on it. It is not a siege. It is a way to convey the message strongly. And the actions are aimed at the Qatari government alone and not against Qatari people, who are still considered their brethren by the countries acting against Qatar.
Proof of the latter came earlier this week when the Bahrain government decided not to inconvenience the Qataris married to Bahrainis living in Bahrain. Though the government had ordered all Qataris out of Bahrain [and Bahrainis out of Qatar], it promptly set up a hotline to solve the issue of such couple and allayed their fears.
Saudi Arabia offered to fly in food, milk and other essentials to alleviate the inconvenience suffered by Qataris. And the Saudi Foreign Minister announced that his country is willing to help Qataris if needed through the King Salman Relief Centre.
As of now the aggrieved party is not Qatar. The aggrieved parties are the ones which have imposed the sanctions to persuade Qatar to get rid of all the poisonous elements it has been nursing and feeding.
Any country anywhere, which aids and harbours terrorists, will be dealt with in a similar fashion by its neighbours.