Qatar Needs to Put Its House in Order

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It looks like the so-called Qatar crisis might blow over soon provided good sense prevails in the high echelons of the establishment in Doha.

Since Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and took various other measures to isolate the gas-rich country last week for providing aid and sanctuary to terrorist outfits, more countries have joined the boycott. Libya, Yemen, Mauritania, Maldives and Gabon followed suit and Jordan downgraded relations.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE also gave deadlines to Qatar diplomats and citizens to leave, their own diplomats and citizens to leave Qatar, and closed their sea, land and airspace thus isolating Doha completely.

But there is a ray of hope the matter might get sorted out since two major and influential forces are now involved in resolving the issue. US President Donald Trump did a volte-face by initially taking an anti-Qatar stance but subsequently speaking to the Qatar Amir and offering to mediate while the Kuwait Amir has already completed the tour of the GCC countries involved in the imbroglio and thus helped to contain the tempers and seen to it that good sense prevailed.

former qatar ambassador to the UN.Qatar indeed has been playing with fire lately and a similar but minor spat three years ago on the same issues, which involved an eight-month-long diplomatic showdown among same countries, does not seem to have helped. Qatar has been officially harbouring extremist outfits like Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood and Taliban and their members live there, move freely and have their offices.

It is said to have handed more than a billion dollars to the elements in terrorist outfits like IS, Hezbollah etc. when their men kidnapped a group of Qatari royals out falcon-hunting in Iraq and held them hostage until freed for ransom some 15 months later. The money eventually would have been used by these outfits to spread terror. It is also said to have been helping the pro-Assad forces in Syria. And it has allowed the no-hold-barred Jazeera TV to flourish though it often comes up with derogatory, denigrating and questionable reports about GCC and other Arab countries and their heads of state while keeping silent about anything negative to do with Qatar.

On top of that, since it shares its largest gas field with Iran, Doha has always soft-pedalled when it comes to Tehran’s nefarious activities in the Gulf where it has been supporting anti-government outfits in Bahrain, has been caught spying in Kuwait, and has refused to discuss the three islands which belong to the UAE which Tehran has been occupying since the early 1970s.

Even so, it is rare to find the six closely-knit Gulf Cooperation Council countries – Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Oman – to so openly act against one of their members. The council has stood like a rock since its formation in 1981. But it seems Qatar has now crossed the high watermark of questionable behaviour.

The Bahrain King’s measured statement was quoted by the local daily DT News on June 8: “The Qatari leadership’s interference, which targeted other Arab and Islamic countries, left us with no option but to take measures.” He urged the Qatari leadership “to reconsider its policies and honour its commitments to avert chaos and end all subversive practices which threaten the security and safety of our countries and jeopardise the unity of our societies.”

One hopes the Kuwaiti and American diplomatic moves, dialogue and intercession bears fruit and Qatar, seeing reason, gives up its anti-GCC ways.

Brij Sharma is an Indian journalist and editor based in Bahrain. Brij tells us the interesting stories we don’t usually hear from the middle east country.