QATAR GANG UP; COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE AND EXCESSIVE

AL-THANI

The conspiracy-theory rocking the middle-east most especially the Gulf council, a six-member state organization is one that has ruffled the international scene.

A union that looks unbreakable, impenetrable is now vulnerable. The signs of crack are more visible and the ultimate question is “how long can the center hold”? It is a question the Muslim and Arab world would want an answer to.

The Arab world has built a wall of defence harpooned on ‘unity’ over the years as a response to what she largely considers as an existentialism threat. Her actions and policies have been subjected and driven by series of events that have molded and reshaped the political landscape of the region.

However, the ongoing spat that has pitted three gulf council states of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and UAE with three non-members that include Egypt, Jordan and Yemen against Qatar has sent ripples across the diplomatic space-One that has been largely felt within the Arab world.

The ongoing ‘desert storm’ is one that is now testing that unity.

Why a fellow Sunni and Muslim state in Saudi Arabia will orchestrate an unholy alliance against Doha remains puzzling and foggy judging by the reasons Riyadh gave.

The excuses King Salman gave, though tenable, still sounds hypocritical when one considers the Saudis’ Wahhabi Islamic doctrine, and antagonistic when one puts into retrospect the position of the Arab world to the Palestinian cause.

Riyadh had accused the Qataris of promoting and funding terrorism and terrorist groups; a state policy they claimed has been responsible for regional instability.

The Saudis want Doha to stop and had specifically demanded that Sultan Al-Thani (The ruler of Qatar) withdraw every financial support from Hamas led government, the hardline Islamic group ruling Palestinians in Gaza strip. It is a demand that has not only shocked Hamas but, has also raised eyebrows among Palestinian sympathizers and even questioned the willingness and proactiveness of the Sunni power house to the plight of the Palestinians.

Stopping Qatari funds to Hamas would be hellish for Palestinians living in Gaza. Qatari money has helped Hamas deliver some social projects to the people while allowing the Islamic group to run the government seamlessly. But, now the Saudis want such activities frozen.

Talk of maintaining regional stability. Really, does Hamas portend a serious threat to Riyadh? Is it a group that possesses unwavering disruptive influence that could jeopardize regional security aside its internal territorial struggle with Tel Aviv? These are searching questions that beg for swift answers.

However, cutting off humanitarian aids from Doha would be anti-people and would further cast doubt over the sincerity of the Saudis to stand by the Palestinians.

Beside Hamas, Doha has also been accused of backing the ‘muslim brotherhood’ in Egypt and also tacitly supporting insurgency in South Eastern Saudi Arabia, accusations she has blatantly rejected. Really, it is a diplomatic storm that has not only caught the small gulf nation off-guard but, has somewhat overwhelmed it.

The barrage of accusations flying left and right, and having to fend all off has gotten the small oil-rich nation perplexed and confused. It is a fact acknowledged by her foreign minister “even enemy state has not been this hostile to us,” while reacting to the standoff.

Blockades from land, sea and air have had a crippling effect on its economy. And judging from the look of things it could only get worse if mediation efforts led by the Kuwaiti emir fail.

While, we should salute the resilience of Riyadh and Co. for cleaning their ‘house’ in a renewed pledge to fighting terrorism and terrorist groups in the wake of President Trump’s visit to the region recently, it is pertinent to carefully examine the actions of the actors enmeshed in this dirty fight; most especially the Saudis.

The Saudis’ allegation of state funding and promotion of terrorism by Qatar smells of “a pot, calling kettle black” analogy. Riyadh really, is not innocent neither does she have a clean bill before the international audience.

In the aftermath of the september9/11 deadly twin-tower terror attacks on American soil, eight out of the 25 terrorists that executed the plans were from the oil kingdom. And besides, the kingdom has promoted and exported a violent strain of Islam called ‘Wahabbism’-an extreme ideological teachings that has inspired many terrorists and terror groups.

This teaching is popular in Pakistan’s madrasas funded by oil monies from the Kingdom.

The above shows the Saudis are not saints as they are trying to paint themselves. They simply lack the moral judgement or premise to take on Qatar.

Another reason why this gang up against Doha looks sinister is the “Iran factor”.

Al-Thani has a cordial relationship with Tehran-Saudi’s arch enemy-and even congratulated Hassan Rouhani on his second-term victory at the polls- A gesture that must have not gone down well with the Sunni powerhouse.

The Persian state is ensnared in supremacy battle with Riyadh in the Islamic world. Both consider themselves as the protector or guardian of Shia and Sunni Islam respectively. Tehran is hell -bent on eroding the influence of Saudi Arabia in the middle-east and has pursued this goal by supporting Shia led Houthi rebel against Sunni government of…in Yemen, the Saudis’ backdoor-A move that has irritated the latter.

The unhealthy rivalry has even got to an unprecedented level ever since King Salman became the new ruler. Salman has driven Iran up to number one on the kingdom’s foreign menu list. Containing and withering the Ayatollah’s influence is of utmost importance and the Saudis “do not care whose Ox is going to be gored”.

So, still sulking over Doha’s public display of affection towards her Shia rival, bet the discovery that Al-Thani paid $1b in ransom to have the members of his royal family freed from the clutches of Iran backed Shia militia groups in Iraq and Syria finally irked Salman and both the UAE and Bahrain’s rulers.

Those funds are believed by the trio to further prop up Tehran and her proxies in fomenting trouble in the region.

Hence, it clearly explains the real reason behind the gang up and calumny against Qatar.

But, it could be counter-productive and even boomerang in the face of the Saudis-the real instigator of this campaign-as Doha already feeling betrayed by the ‘brotherhood’ might be pushed into the arms of another attention-seeking power in Turkey and even cozying up to Iran.

The ‘three musketeers’ in question should be wary of pushing the Qataris away, no doubt, the Saudis are unhappy at their fellow Gulf council’s member’s attempt to forge an autonomous policy- a detour from their own blueprint for the council and the region.

Nonetheless, applying the ‘sledge hammer to kill a housefly’ approach is way, way too abrasive.

Nobody should cordon the promotion and funding of terrorism, No, not at all. Riyadh and Co. have clearly sent a statement of intent – a message that has surely reverberated throughout the Arab world.

But, sheathing the sword, seeking diplomacy-a route the Qataris have insisted they want to take- and convincing the UAE to endorse talks would serve the region well.

Like, Saudi’s foreign minister said, “it is an in-house thing, and we’ll definitely resolve it.” They should show it now, by redressing their counter-productive and overtly excessive approach to an “in-house” thing.

 

 

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