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Asharq Al-Awsat Exclusive - Qatar’s Crisis: A Regional Challenge

Asharq Al-Awsat Exclusive - Qatar’s Crisis: A Regional Challenge

Friday, 29 December, 2017 - 09:00
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) logo is seen during a meeting in Manama, Bahrain April 7, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Ties between Qatar and Gulf countries were bumpy between 1995 and 2013 over concerns about Doha’s priorities outside the region and a change in its foreign and security policies.

Leaders of Gulf states were optimistic when the emir of Qatar handed over power to his son Crown Prince Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in June 2013, in hopes that the young leadership would open a new page in its relations with the Gulf under the slogan of preserving collective security in the region, and would establish fraternal relations based on mutual trust.

Yet it wasn't long before that the crisis of March 2014 erupted when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates recalled their ambassadors from Doha to protest Qatar’s behavior.

Ties resumed in November of the same year when Qatar stressed that it was sticking to its previous commitments to improve its behavior and preserve the security and stability of Gulf states.

The same scenario was repeated when in 2017 Qatar’s behavior began to threaten the security of its Gulf partners.

Qatari officials have reiterated that the country is keen on preserving the Gulf Cooperation Council. But Doha seems to be seeking a free GCC membership by failing to make commitments or abiding to restrictions.

So complaints made by Gulf countries over Qatar’s behavior cannot be considered “political accusations.” They have continuously informed Doha about their frustrations either diplomatically or through the media.

The Gulf partners have never hidden the truth that such attitude poses a direct threat to the region’s security.

Qatar not only makes incitements through its Al-Jazeera TV network, it also backs several extremist organizations, including the Muslim Brotherhood, which is considered a terrorist group by many states, and supports Houthi insurgents in Yemen in addition to al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Doha is also close to Iran, which threatens the region, and plays a role in creating instability in Gulf states by hosting several wanted individuals.

Several countries outside the region, including Western states, had a hand in deepening the Qatari-Gulf crisis. Such countries found Qatar’s behavior a means to achieve their strategic interests in the Gulf region and beyond it.

The concept of collective security is the basis of any regional entity, which can never function properly if one of its members fails to commit to such a security.

Qatar’s attempts to violate this concept lie behind all the crises that have hit ties between Doha and its Gulf neighbors. So we all hope for the day that Qatar would make a true and honest commitment to GCC’s collective security.

Doha must realize that the GCC and Qatar enjoy joint security and interests before it’s too late and before the gap between them widens.

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