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Qatar’s Diplomatic Crisis Going Downhill - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English
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Opinion

Qatar’s Diplomatic Crisis Going Downhill

Qatar

Qatar’s government moved last week to sign a deal on buying 36 top-notch F-15 fighter jets. After securing this purchase, Doha will possess a massive air force at its disposal.

It is worth remembering that in November 2016 the Gulf peninsula also sealed a deal adding to its fleet another 72 F-15 jets. But there remains a catch-22 binding Qatar’s aerial military might—despite a large and capable air fleet, it lacks a sufficient and accessible airspace for its pilots to conduct much needed drills.

More so, Qatar’s airspace has been sizably trimmed after Saudi Arabia and Bahrain –neighboring Gulf states – closed off their air and land routes for the country’s role in funding extremist groups.

Unless Doha seeks Iran’s help or travels abroad to train, fighter jet drills remain a far reach.

What faces Qatar today is a boycott of political, social and economic ties which it won’t be able to withhold. And since this is not a military standoff, F-15 jets are of no relevance to finding a solution.

Increasingly authorities in Doha complain against the recently-imposed punitive measures Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates pushed for after patience running out with the destabilizing actions Qatar has upheld in the region ever since its former emir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, staged a power grab and counting till this very day.

For years the peninsula engaged in risky ploys the former emir managed over the phone and from a distance, safe in the knowledge Arab governments will not dare punish his country. But everything ultimately has a price.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE, want Qatar to be held accountable should it insist on adopting a hostile political agenda. Qatar may endure the diplomatic boycott for a few months, keeping in mind that Doha does not share Iran its tough skin against embargo.

In the end, Qatar will succumb and give up on funding anarchist parties. It will eventually shut down most rabble-rousing media outlets it created when evading commitments it made to the Riyadh agreement.

Some of Doha’s problems can be solved. For example, they can import fruits and vegetables from Europe, meat from Australia and dairy products from Turkey, and they would pay more money to get these by plane.

However, there are problems which Doha cannot solve through money or developed means of transportation. Confidence in the political system will shake. As threats and costs increase, Qatar’s government will not be able to reassure its citizens and residents, nor be able to end tensions which affected them and major companies.

In the last two weeks, Qatar’s government attempted reassuring citizens and residents by falsely claiming that disputes are soon to be resolved.

At some point, it went as far as forging statements and attributing some of them to Washington officials, including to the US President Donald Trump. It exaggerated talks and repeated news to reassure its citizens that the American military base will remain in Qatar.

Two days ago, Qatari state-owned media outlets falsely said that American troops carried out a joint military drill with Qatari troops. The Pentagon soon after issued a statement denying the news.

People in Qatar began to realize the bitter truth that their government got them biting off more than what they can chew. They realized that the crisis isn’t going anywhere, and that the boycott will restrain them as disputes worsen and more bridges burn down.

Countries harmed by Qatar’s policies said they intend on having Qatar pay a high price so long that it threatens their security and stability.

All tricks up Doha’s sleeve have failed—particularly when it attempted driving a wedge between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi and inciting the US against Saudi Arabia.

Mobilizing Doha-hired social media and media mouthpieces in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE also proved useless as those countries’ governments preemptively cracked down on all Qatar-linked outlets, blocking them in their territories.

All the more, Saudi, Egyptian, Bahraini and UAE governments now closely monitor all financial transactions and communications coming into or out of their counties and are –even remotely- linked to Qatar. Practically, they have obstructed any plans which Doha authorities had invested in inside their countries.

This time, breaking the ice goes beyond a warm opening of arms or a call for traditional Arab tolerance and kindness. Doha needs to seriously rethink its detrimental policy in the region.

Even though not partaking the boycott, the majority of the region’s countries agree that Qatar’s regime has crossed all red limits, causing grave destruction, threatening the region’s entire security and aiding terrorist groups and hostile countries like Iran.

These countries together will support penalizing Qatari authorities until it alters its practices and raises the white flag.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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