Nothing could be more amusing than seeing US President and his secretaries negating each other on Qatar crisis. Donald Trump in initial tweets that he rushed to take all the credit for Saudi Emirati led ban against Qatar for financing and sheltering terrorism.
With his Qatari counterpart Khalid Al Attiyah in Washington, defence secretary signed a deal to sell 36 F 15 jets to Qatar and if the deal is any indication, there is no confusion that the leadership in the United States has not subscribed the ban move as assumed by many in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. Those who decided the ban diplomacy, fell flat in just few days after the ban.
The decision makers of Saudi Emirati found it very difficult to sell the ban to their clients, allies and even to smaller nations dependent on charities and aids. Gradually, the ban is becoming a liability, with no safe and honourable exit in sight. All reactions from Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Cairo indicate that something has gone terribly wrong.
Firstly they undermined Qatar’s media and communication capabilities to resist terror charges. Qatar supported powerful media outlets and continue to remain less controlled than the Saudi and Emirati media outlets. The fights between Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera will tell you that Al-Jazeera has maintained more a professional outlook and Al-Arabia turned into a party against Qatar.
Till now, it is clear that Turkey can play both as a broker and an ally of Qatar and Iran will support Turkey. While most of the European countries did not support the ban and Emmanuel Macron, the French president, was the first to have called both sides of the dispute. Now, those who supported are finding a way out. Jordan and Morocco lowered their diplomatic relations with Qatar but now, they have offered assistance to Qatar. This week, the Jordanian King will visit Kuwait to break the deadlock. Oman and Kuwait remain staunchly in favour of a negotiated settlement and Kuwait’s Emir is the main person to find a breakthrough. Major world powers like Russia, Germany, China and Britain did not subscribe to the conflict version of Saudi Emirati.
Three main reasons behind why the decision on the ban on Qatar went wrong:
The discussion of terrorism by the Saudi-Emirati-Egypt troika was reduced to Muslim Brotherhood , Hamas sent a clear message that the move was totally political and was taken up to pacify the Egyptian authorities because of their strained relation with the Saudis. Despite of its extreme anti Israeli rhetoric, Hamas enjoys immense support from Arab nations because of its two major battles against Israel and managing the Gaza Strip under regional and international sanctions.
Without resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict and singling out Hamas as a terrorist group, without providing people with clear alternative to replace Hamas in Gaza and West Bank. People relate it to Israeli rhetoric against Hamas. The “troika” on Muslim Brotherhood ignored the long history of repression of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and how the Gulf countries particularly Saudi Arabia, had rescued and sheltered the escaping Brotherhood from Nasser’s Egypt.
There are three generations who were educated by Egyptian teachers and many of them belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood. Yousuf al Qardawi, enjoys more respect and support that any Gulf Cooperation Council monarch. The Muslim Brotherhood are the main victims of Egyptian state’s repression and is still the story most of the Arabs believe. US State Secretary Rex Tillerson said, that it was problematic to place the entire Muslim Brotherhood organisation in the list of terrorist.
This round of sanctions has created a war time panic with air, land and naval blockade among the Qatari citizens, which stopped all the important supplies that is being shipped mostly through land routes of Saudi Arabia. The second reason was that the ban disproportionate to the objectives set by the banning countries and the story of Qatar supporting Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood was not new. Qatar relations with Iran is not a secret. None of the stated reasons warranted such urgency. Qatari Emir,controversial statements were under investigation as Qatar claimed the website of its official news website and its Twitter was hacked.
Behind the Arab uprisings Qatar has been a key supporter of force. Now, UAE has now adopted a proactive foreign policy to rollback the uprisings, which start from Egypt where it supported General Al-Sisi in Mohammed Morsi the first elected president of Egypt.
In UAE, Libya, Egypt and Qatar are supporting opposite groups. The role of UAE in facilitating a separate South Yemen council is one more example that how UAE has gone beyond the original plan and Saudi Arabia had decided about Yemen. Citizens of Saudi Arabia remain focused on Yemen, UAE and Egypt are collaborating to stop the Islamist forces.
The King Salman’s policies were more in favour of Qatar, in 2014 compromise. Saudi Arabia remains preoccupied by Yemen, where its immediate security, UAE and to change his approach towards Qatar, Egypt were in a position to force King Salman.
As Turkey, Europe, Russia and Iran opposed the Qatar ban. UAE and Egypt are handing over the charge to King Salman to take the final call on the crisis. The ban is being eased as the anti Qatar rhetoric is declining. However, The misadventure has questioned the leadership of Saudi Arabia’s young deputy prince Mohammad Bin Salman. Citizens of Saudi Arabia will not prefer to let this crisis allow, Iran to manipulate and align with Saudi members Turkey, Pakistan and other Arab and European countries now opposed to Saudi-UAE imposed ban on Qatar.