Khairallah Khairallah is a Lebanese writer.

  • Doha’s miscalculations at the core of Gulf crisis, On: Sun, 18 Jun 2017

  • Qatar needs to realise there is a new game in town , On: Sun, 11 Jun 2017

  • Iran’s missile comedy, On: Sun, 04 Jun 2017

  • When will Iran become a normal state? , On: Sun, 28 May 2017

  • Searching for a new formula in Yemen, On: Sun, 21 May 2017

  • Not the time for jokes in Yemen, On: Sun, 14 May 2017

  • Hamas will never learn from its mistakes. , On: Sun, 07 May 2017

  • Bashar Assad is in no position to criticise Jordan, On: Sun, 30 Apr 2017

  • Palestinians must rise to the challenge, On: Sun, 30 Apr 2017

  • Looking for a political solution in Yemen, On: Sun, 23 Apr 2017

  • The Muslim Brotherhood cannot deny the facts in Yemen , On: Sun, 09 Apr 2017

  • The other side of the Emirati intervention in Yemen, On: Sun, 26 Mar 2017

  • Resolution 1701, a weapon in the hands of Lebanon, On: Sun, 19 Mar 2017

  • Profiteering from the Palestinian cause, On: Sun, 05 Mar 2017

  • The two-state solution is the minimum required , On: Sun, 26 Feb 2017

  • Finally, someone is asking about what Iran is doing in Iraq , On: Sun, 12 Feb 2017

  • Moscow’s message is clear: Russia is in Syria for the long haul, On: Sun, 29 Jan 2017

  • Lots of unknowns as Trump takes over Obama’s failures , On: Sun, 22 Jan 2017

  • The Somalisation of Yemen , On: Sun, 08 Jan 2017

  • The lessons of Gebran Tueni’s assassination, On: Sun, 18 Dec 2016

  • The new Fatah has nothing to do with the old one, On: Sun, 04 Dec 2016

  • Iran’s attack on Lebanon , On: Sun, 20 Nov 2016

  • A new reign in Lebanon ushers in new challenges , On: Sun, 06 Nov 2016

  • Hezbollah, Michel Aoun and Lebanon’s presidential drama, On: Sun, 30 Oct 2016

  • The biggest winner in Morocco’s elections, On: Sun, 16 Oct 2016

  • Who really was Shimon Peres? , On: Sun, 09 Oct 2016

  • What do Iraq, Syria and Lebanon have in common? , On: Sun, 18 Sep 2016

  • Why there is little cause for hope in Yemen , On: Sun, 11 Sep 2016

  • Russia, Iran and Syrian legitimacy , On: Sun, 28 Aug 2016

  • US uncertainties trigger power game in Syria , On: Sun, 21 Aug 2016

  • Putin’s miscalculations in the battle for Aleppo , On: Sun, 14 Aug 2016

  • The life or death battle for Aleppo , On: Sun, 07 Aug 2016

  • Clinton better for the Palestinians than Bernie Sanders, On: Sun, 03 Jul 2016

  • The only certainty in Yemen , On: Sun, 26 Jun 2016

  • The target is Lebanon , On: Sun, 19 Jun 2016

  • Jordan in the eye of the storm , On: Sun, 12 Jun 2016

  • Iran and the battle for Falluja , On: Sun, 05 Jun 2016

  • The curse of Hariri , On: Sun, 22 May 2016

  • Obama’s false dichotomy: Short beards vs long beards , On: Sun, 15 May 2016

  • Doha’s miscalculations at the core of Gulf crisis

    Qatar did a lot to weaken the Gulf Cooperation Council by engaging in an odd competition with Saudi Arabia.

    2017/06/18 Issue: 111 Page: 1

    The crisis pitting Qatar against Saudi-led Gulf countries and Egypt is the result of Doha’s miscalculations and missteps.

    Qatar did a lot to weaken the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) by en­gaging in an odd competition with Saudi Arabia. Even though it did not always see eye to eye with Tehran, Qatar’s policy of going against Saudi Arabia served the interests of Iran, which has sought to undermine GCC countries.

    Qatar is different from Oman. The sultanate is a special case because it might have had no choice but to cooperate with Iran, considering the countries’ shared borders and control of the Strait of Hormuz.

    Less understandable is Qatar’s cooperation with Tehran. Qatar’s argument that sharing a major natural gas field with Iran makes cooperation with Tehran a necessity is weak. Doha may choose to work with Iran in a specific sector but not necessarily in everything. After all, Iran has always worked against the inter­ests of the other Gulf countries and especially those of Saudi Arabia. It ignited sectarian strife in Bahrain and has been occupying three Emi­rati islands since 1971.

    Under the reign of Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Doha has failed to provide ap­propriate rationale for its Iranian policy. In the face of Iran’s obvious animosity towards Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Tamim could have used phrases such as “We’re all in the same boat.” By “all,” he would have meant the Gulf states. He didn’t.

    Sheik Tamim inherited from his father, former Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, many prob­lems, among them dwindling oil revenues and skyrocketing con­struction costs of 2022 World Cup facilities. He could not envisage a particular policy that would show that he was aware of the dangers of remaining prisoner of his father’s policy choices and of the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood. He could not get out unscathed from the dilemmas created by his close cooperation with Iran in Lebanon and his support for Syrian President Bashar Assad just because the latter has fallen into Saudi disgrace.

    For the third time in four years, a Gulf initiative takes the United States by surprise. The first time was when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait backed the 2013 coup against the Muslim Brotherhood and Muhammad Morsi in Egypt. The second was when Operation Decisive Storm began in Yemen despite American objections. The aim was to put an end to Iran’s expansionist plan in the region. Qatar was a partner in Operation Decisive Storm but only nominally.

    This third Arab initiative came within the context of favourable conditions in the United States but is definitely not a US-backed initia­tive. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt took a stand against Qatar that is not necessarily shared by Washington. It was an independ­ent Arab stand dictated by common Gulf interests.

    Qatar once could have easily swayed the US government’s stand with the lucrative purchase of US-made F-15 warplanes but not this time. The time for paradoxes and contradictions is over.

    Qatar may not have had problems dealing with Washington but it has been mistaken to think having a US military base on its soil provides sufficient cover for Doha to engage in all kinds of policies and practices, including shadowy deals with Iran and its proxies in Syria under the guise of ransoming a party of Qatari hunters kidnapped in Iraq at the end of 2015. The true significance of this deal is not clear but it is obvious that it makes it possible for Iranian sectarian militias and al-Qaeda spin-off organisations to dispose of huge amounts of Qatari money.

    Qatar’s essential problem is with its Arab environment. Qatar simply needs to change its behaviour. It must cease its fruitless manoeu­vring. This kind of behaviour serves only Turkish and Iranian in­terests. The regime in Iran is always on the hunt for any point of entry, especially for possible breaches in neighbouring countries and even in faraway countries, such as Leba­non.

    Ending the reign of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was achieved despite US objections. The current boycott of Qatar is not necessarily and entirely blessed by the US. We are probably witnessing a change. The Trump administration does not object to bold initiatives taken by those who are wise enough to self-reliantly protect their own interests.

    Editors' Picks

    The Arab Weekly Newspaper reaches Western & Arabic audience that are influential as well as being affluent.

    From Europe to the Middle East,and North America, The Arab Weekly talks to opinion formers and influential figures, providing insight and comment on national, international and regional news through the focus of Arabic countries and community.

    Published by Al Arab Publishing House

    Publisher and Group Executive Editor: Haitham El-Zobaidi, PhD

    Editor-in-Chief: Oussama Romdhani

    Deputy Editor-in-Chief: Dalal Saoud

    Senior Editor: John Hendel

    Chief Copy Editors: Jonathan Hemming and Richard Pretorius

    Analysis Section Editor: Ed Blanche

    Opinion Section Editor: Claude Salhani

    East/West Section Editor: Mark Habeeb

    Levant Section Editor: Jamal J. Halaby

    Gulf Section Editor: Mohammed Alkhereiji

    Society and Travel Sections Editor: Samar Kadi

    Senior Correspondents:

    Mahmud el-Shafey (London)

    Lamine Ghanmi (Tunis)


    Saad Guerraoui (Casablanca)

    Dunia El-Zobeidi (London)

    Roua Khlifi (Tunis)

    Rasha Elass - Thomas Seibert (Washington)

    Published by Al Arab Publishing House

    Contact editor

    Subscription & Advertising:

    Tel 020 3667 7249

    Mohamed Al Mufti

    Marketing & Advertising Manager

    Tel (Main) +44 20 6702 3999

    Direct: +44 20 8742 9262

    Al Arab Publishing House

    Kensington Centre

    66 Hammersmith Road

    London W14 8UD, UK

    Tel: (+44) 20 7602 3999

    Fax: (+44) 20 7602 8778

    Follow Us
    © The Arab Weekly, All rights reserved