• Dealing with the Gulf crisis , On: Sun, 18 Jun 2017

  • The crisis over Qatar’s policies , On: Sun, 11 Jun 2017

  • The 50th anniversary of the 1967 war, On: Sun, 04 Jun 2017

  • Terrorists wage a war on life, everywhere , On: Sun, 28 May 2017

  • Could the Riyadh summit be a turning point?, On: Sun, 21 May 2017

  • Addressing the root causes of illegal migration is key, On: Sun, 14 May 2017

  • Arab youth surveys are useful, On: Sun, 07 May 2017

  • European vote matters to the Arab world, On: Sun, 30 Apr 2017

  • Populists in the West are building costly , On: Sun, 23 Apr 2017

  • Dealing with Arab diaspora communities , On: Sun, 16 Apr 2017

  • Endless civilian tragedies in Syria and Iraq , On: Sun, 09 Apr 2017

  • The results of the Amman summit , On: Sun, 02 Apr 2017

  • Tackling the roots of radicalisation , On: Sun, 26 Mar 2017

  • Lessons of the Dutch vote , On: Sun, 19 Mar 2017

  • Tough days for Arab women facing war and displacement , On: Sun, 12 Mar 2017

  • ISIS a failed idea and a failing project , On: Sun, 05 Mar 2017

  • Civilians continue to suffer in Iraq , On: Sun, 26 Feb 2017

  • Killing the Palestinians’ hopes for statehood , On: Sun, 19 Feb 2017

  • The migration issue after Malta , On: Sun, 12 Feb 2017

  • The Trump administration’s early record , On: Sun, 05 Feb 2017

  • The messages of Davos , On: Sun, 22 Jan 2017

  • Predicting MENA’s future, On: Sun, 15 Jan 2017

  • Welcoming 2017 , On: Sun, 08 Jan 2017

  • Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, On: Sun, 25 Dec 2016

  • The Cairo bombing , On: Sun, 18 Dec 2016

  • The wages of war , On: Sun, 11 Dec 2016

  • The continuing flow of migrants across the Mediterranean, On: Sun, 04 Dec 2016

  • Risks of social media abuse in MENA region , On: Sun, 27 Nov 2016

  • Arab youth should be a source of hope, not concern, On: Sun, 20 Nov 2016

  • After the election of Donald Trump , On: Sun, 13 Nov 2016

  • Many hopes are pinned on Marrakech climate conference , On: Sun, 06 Nov 2016

  • Stability in the Maghreb, On: Sun, 30 Oct 2016

  • Syria’s bloody story , On: Sun, 23 Oct 2016

  • Stopping the tragedy of child brides, On: Sun, 16 Oct 2016

  • Welcoming the new UN chief , On: Sun, 09 Oct 2016

  • The refugee crisis is not going away , On: Sun, 02 Oct 2016

  • The UN still serves a purpose , On: Sun, 25 Sep 2016

  • The Arab world’s water crisis is not going away , On: Sun, 18 Sep 2016

  • New reports underline the cost of Israeli occupation , On: Sun, 11 Sep 2016

  • Dealing with the Gulf crisis

    2017/06/18 Issue: 111 Page: 6

    Nearly a fortnight after the crisis over Qatar’s maverick policies began there is little sign Doha is interested in any meaningful de-escalation.

    The gas-rich Gulf state refuses to admit to being wrong about its dangerous foreign policy choices, preferring to defend them instead as “independ­ent” and “sovereign.” It continues to demonstrate a stubborn unwillingness to take on board the concerns raised by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Qatar is pretty much isolated by air, land and sea — and the crisis will not go away by Doha claiming it is business as usual.

    Qatar needs to realise its limits. It cannot refuse to recognise the regional anxieties caused by its support for Islamist radicals. For years, Hamas and Taliban activists, as well as leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, have found shelter and aid on Qatari soil. Embold­ened by their host’s political and monetary support, radical Islamists of various stripes set about interfering in the domestic politics of sovereign Gulf states. Is it any wonder Qatar’s neigh­bours finally said enough is enough?

    What happens next depends on Qatar. The other Gulf states have responsibly signalled they are not contemplating military action or any move that could hinder the smooth operations of the US airbase in Qatar.

    A possible endgame is clear. UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash has explicitly stated that the showdown was not about regime change but about “a change of policy, change of approach.” Senior officials of the Gulf Arab states have emphasised their commitment to the traditional ties that bind the people of the region. Saudi Arabia has even expressed its willingness to provide food aid to Qatar. It is clear the Gulf countries realise that all political conflicts eventually end but that neighbours will always be neighbours.

    Does Qatar have the same responsible understanding of what it means to live in a region and how to deal with neighbours?

    The ball is in Doha’s court. Disparate attempts at honest media­tion are under way, not least by the emir of Kuwait. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has telephoned Qatar’s emir and stressed the need to resolve the situation through dialogue. France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron, has talked with the emirs of Kuwait and Qatar, the kings of Saudi Arabia and Morocco and the crown prince of Abu Dhabi. British Prime Minister Theresa May spoke to the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar.

    There are those, however, such as Turkey, which claim to be impartial mediators but are burdened by an ideological bias. The Turkish foreign minister has been to the Gulf region but Ankara’s alignment with Muslim Brotherhood positions must give pause for thought when it comes to any role as bridge-builder. Iran’s actions throughout this crisis only reaffirm that it is part of the problem. It is hard to see it becoming part of the solution.

    In the final analysis, Doha must provide honest answers to its neighbours’ questions and concerns. It must cease and desist from actions that imperil regional stability. It must address the accusa­tions levelled at it, not least by US President Donald Trump, of funding terrorism. The endgame is not about the subjugation of Qatar but the end of a policy of unbridled overreach, which does nobody any good.

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