Qatar’s behaviour can no longer be tolerated
The role of Al Jazeera as a channel for premeditated media campaigns is about to come to an end.
2017/06/11 Issue: 110 Page: 6
The diplomatic crisis between Qatar and several influential Arab countries is deepening. Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani could have chosen to contain it since he is the instigator of the crisis. Instead he opted to make it worse.
It would have been wiser for Sheikh Tamim, and by extension for his experienced father and advisers, to initiate a genuine and frank reconciliation process. Had he done so, the heads of state of the other Arab countries would have been more than willing to close an eye on his declarations.
Unfortunately, it seems that Sheikh Tamim had no idea that the crisis could evolve beyond smear campaigns in the media. This time, the game being played is serious.
Qatari rulers are facing a tough choice: Either repair the situation or face grave measures. Within the current regional context, choosing to step out of the circle of the brotherly nations in the region would be equated to siding with the enemy. Sheikh Tamim’s choice to place his country in a different direction from that of its brotherly neighbours is seriously dangerous.
Qatar has a critically strategic position in the region and inside the Arab and Gulf communities and therefore could not be tolerated to rebel, especially under the current circumstances.
As Arab countries reacted to Sheikh Tamim’s declarations, Qatar could have taken quick corrective measures. The time to manoeuvre and play with paradoxes is forever gone. Doha must realise that it can no longer fool people or continue to export crises.
The role of Al Jazeera as a channel for premeditated media campaigns is about to come to an end. The Qatari regime had tried to mislead everybody into thinking that it is generously and heavily financing the news channel and its programmes for the noble purpose of consecrating the tradition of debate in the Arab world. We know that the main objective of the Al Jazeera project was to pester Saudi Arabia and vent Qatar’s frustration with the border incident between the two countries.
It would not be wise for a small country like Qatar to foment schemes and machinations against a much larger neighbour like Saudi Arabia. It was exactly because of the futility of this game that Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani, Sheikh Tamim’s grandfather, had overthrown his cousin, Sheikh Ahmad bin Ali al-Thani.
If ceasing all the scheming against Saudi Arabia is not a sign of faithfulness to Sheikh Khalifa’s intentions, let it be then a sign of understanding once and for all that Saudi Arabia is a vast country with a stable regime and that small Qatar cannot in any way destabilise it.
We can now understand the infatuation of the Qatari regime with all types and hues of political Islam. To sneak up on a regime devoted to the service of Islam, religion must be the best channel.
Qatar’s sudden religious fervour is far from being motivated by a genuine concern for Muslims and Islam. The purpose was to propagate the idea that Saudi Arabia is failing its religious duties towards Islam and especially its jihadist duties. It was hoped that such a message would fall on sympathetic ears inside Saudi society.
Just like Iran, Qatar used the Palestinian cause to advance its project and appear in a leading jihadist role. However, to be on the safe side with the United States, Qatar hurried to establish a complex network of secret and open relations with Israel. There were no geopolitical or economic necessities for these relations. Still, this obvious fact did not stop Hamas from being completely taken in by Qatar’s comedy.
Looking at the twist and turns in Qatar’s declarations and actions, and at the risk of going out on a limb, I would say that Sheikh Tamim and his father had somehow reached the conclusion that the so-called jihadist Salafism in the Gulf region is taking its last breaths.
The jihadist terror groups are disappearing and, although Qatar does not dare declare openly its support for these groups, it will nevertheless seek to replace them and will try this time to appeal to other groups confessing Shia fundamentalism. We all know who is behind this type of extremist group.
Luckily for Sheikh Tamim and his father, the new scarecrow they will be waving to scare Qatar’s regional brothers is already known thanks to Iran’s incessant efforts in threatening security in the Gulf region and the Middle East.
By saying what he said, Sheikh Tamim was launching a test balloon to check the strength of relations between the Gulf countries. The strong reactions stunned him, so he pretended that his words were taken out of context.
Still, he has chosen to escalate the crisis and camped on his dangerous positions. The other Arab countries had no choice but to start the process of stopping him for good.