Qatar against all: why the small emirate quarreled with its neighbors

The rivalry between the two richest countries of the Persian Gulf, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, goes back several centuries. At the regional level, countries have long been fighting for leadership, so the diplomatic conflict that erupted on Monday is just the result of an increase in the degree of confrontation. We have decided to explain why the small emirate has sharply become an outcast among its neighbors

How old is the confrontation between Qatar and neighboring states?

The first reports of this relate to 1869, after the receipt of independence by Qatar from Bahrain. Then the rulers of the UAE, Bahrain, Britain and Turkey fought for Qatar. The Emirate ruler, Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa considered Qatar his own, while behind the Qatari sheikh Jassem al-Thani stood Ottoman Turkey. Her Minister of Foreign Affairs recognized the right of Qatar to his land. And although in 1880 the conflict seemed to have been resolved, the parties fought even further. After the defeat of the Ottomans in World War I, their small outpost was expelled from Qatar in 1915. The border disputes between Qatar and Saudi Arabia continued from 1969 until 2001, when an agreement was reached. In 1992, Qatar accused the Saudis of attacking a border post and killing Qatari soldiers. After that, in 1995, the emirate left the session of the local Persian Council and threatened to boycott all future meetings and in general withdraw from the body. Qatar, besides this, suspected Saudis in at least two attempts at a coup in Doha.

Is this the first time a diplomatic rupture of relations has taken place?

Specifically, between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, this is the third time that the ambassadors are recalled. For the first time, Riyadh used this practice in 2002 after criticizing the Saudi royal family on the Qatari channel Al-Jazeera. Relations warmed only by 2008, but in 2014 Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE again for eight months ripped the emirate of all ties after Qatar supported the “Brothers of Muslims” and their leader Mohammed Mursi in Egypt. Qatar’s neighbors counted on the Egyptian army, which overthrew the religious president.

What is the essence of the last conflict?

The diplomatic rift in June 2017 was fueled by the above-mentioned events, Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, and the fact that Qatar continued to finance various militants in conflicts in the Middle East, use Al Jazeera (until its signal was banned, and offices – Not closed) as a media weapon. In addition, the immediate impetus was an appeal from the Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani published on the website of the state TV of Qatar, in which he criticized Saudi Arabia and its allies, and extolled “warm relations” with Iran. The message was quickly removed, accusing hackers of hacking the site, but it was too late. The emir himself added fuel to the fire by talking with the re-elected Iranian President Hassan Ruhani and confirming at least a non-hostile attitude toward Tehran.

After all this, Saudi Arabia launched a campaign to discredit Qatar, accusing the emirate of “supporting and financing terrorism,” “creating a threat to regional stability,” “betraying”, “supporting Iran,” etc. And yesterday Saudis (and along with them Bahrain, The United Arab Emirates, the Maldives, Mauritius, the government of Yemen in exile and Egypt) broke all ties with Qatar, including air communications, sea and land communications; The ambassadors of Qatar were ordered to leave the territory of the countries within 48 hours, and the citizens of Qatar for 14 days.

The real cause of the conflict is an attempt to “return Qatar to the family” and make its rulers more loyal to the Saudi course, to treat Iran more harshly and to stop financing terrorists (it remains behind the brackets that the Saudis and Emirates are doing exactly the same thing). Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia gave his rulers a “green light” for pressure on Qatar because of the latter’s economic ties with Iran and showed that Washington will rely in its regional policy on Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but not on the small emirate.

Who and how to solve the conflict?

In the first hours of the diplomatic crisis, Turkey and the United States offered their assistance. Ankara has great strategic interests in Qatar, and the United States maintains its largest air base, Al-Udayd, with 10,000 personnel in the emirate. Later, to neutralize the conflict “on the ground” were provoked before the neutral Oman and Kuwait. These are the countries that have earned their reputation as good intermediaries. Today, the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and the Foreign Minister of Oman, landed in Riyadh for talks. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also helps.

What are the possible consequences for Qatar and the region?

Since Qatar’s only land border with Saudi Arabia is closed, Qatar may have a shortage of food, essentials and water. In Twitter, there are already circulating photos of empty shelves in Qatar supermarkets. From this, first of all, migrant workers will suffer, who are working on projects for FM-2022. By the way, these projects too may hang because of the fact that all materials, like food, Qatar imports. Due to the disruption of the air service, the country’s main airline, Qatar Airways, will suffer economically. In the conflict zones in Syria, Libya and Yemen, attacks against the Qatar-related groups will begin. The decline of the image of Qatar, a decrease in its financial and media capabilities is also a possible option for the end of the crisis.