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Who Remembers the Qatar Crisis?

Who Remembers the Qatar Crisis?

Sunday, 16 February, 2020 - 09:30
Salman Al-Dossary
Salman Al-Dossary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

When the four countries (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and Bahrain) severed their relations with Qatar, nearly two and a half years ago, because of its constant incitement to extremism and the financing of terrorist groups, the Qatari crisis was then talk of the Gulf councils, and it continued to be present in the media and political for months later, then began to gradually decline.

The four countries have a clear stance. Their demands are known and their message is the same: we will never return to the previous situation, while the Qatari government - the only one affected by the boycott - adopted the method of political and media escalation. It only implemented a superficial change, failing to radically adjust its behavior.

More than two years have passed, and Doha is still scuffling, while its crisis has become forgotten. Nothing has ever changed for the four countries, which went on their way, while Doha continued to suffer from its isolation.

Contrary to its media policy that claims that the country has become stronger thanks to the boycott, Doha has finally succumbed to the political reality, finally admitting that the ball is in its court and that shouting and lamenting will not benefit it.

It took the decision to send its foreign minister to Riyadh. But the latter did not work for the success of the negotiations, based on the six principles declared by the Arab quartet. Those include the commitment to combating extremism and terrorism in all their forms, preventing their financing, and stopping incitement and hate speech, as well as the full adherence to the 2013 Riyadh Agreement, the supplemental agreement, and its implementation mechanisms for 2014, under the wings of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Doha attended the meeting only to buy time and sell words without any practical actions. Consequently, its foreign minister returned empty-handed as expected. What’s worse, Qatar lost its pride to find itself forced to go to Riyadh against its will to search for a solution that would end its crisis.

What is left for Qatar after it missed the only real opportunity since the beginning of its crisis?! In fact, many forget that Doha is nothing more than a big media trumpet, which thinks that by creating media crises, interfering in the affairs of others, promoting fictitious stories and lies, it would proudly tell its opponents: we are here.

In short, this false media excitement is summed up by the Economist magazine, when it mocked the Emir of Qatar’s inconsistency, when he said, “We want freedom of expression for the people of the region and they are not happy with it”, while most Qataris are forced to remain silent.

Perhaps the excitement-based Qatari media policy has been successful and somewhat exciting in previous decades. Today, it expired.

Excitement does not make an impact on public opinion. Even the biggest criminals and terrorists make exciting speeches, but what do they become after that?

Indeed, this is the reality of Qatar today. It believes that its media trumpets are able to save it from the most severe crisis it faces in its history.

If these negotiations had taken place at the beginning of the crisis, they would have had an echo and media and popular interest. Today, many people are no longer interested in Qatar… whether it returns, or remains isolated or whether negotiations succeed or fail...

Everyone has become convinced that these four countries have issues and concerns that are more important and useful than a forgotten crisis.

This is the bitter truth that Qatari politicians insist on neglecting. They will remain isolated until they commit to extinguishing the fires that their policy had ignited. Moreover, no one remembers them, whether they returned to their surroundings, or remained isolated.

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