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June 28, 2018 No.
7543

UAE State Minister For Foreign Affairs On First Anniversary Of Gulf Crisis: No Solution On The Horizon Because Qatar Continues To Support Terror, Extremism

One year after the outbreak of the Gulf crisis – which began in June 2017 when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain announced they were severing their relations with Qatar – Anwar Gargash, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, published an article in the Dubai-based Saudi daily Al-Hayat titled "Qatar – A Year of Shattered Dreams." In the article he reiterated that the crisis didn't come out of nowhere, but followed years during which Qatar behaved opportunistically to entrench its position in the region while harming the region's security, undermining the stability of its neighbors and violating its agreements with them. He added that today, a year after the outbreak of the crisis, there is still no solution on the horizon, because Qatar, despite its isolation and despite the damage it has sustained due to the crisis, hasn’t changed its ways and continues to support terror and extremism and to threaten its neighbors' stability. Gargash stressed that the crisis would only end after Qatar changed its conduct and ceased its support of extremism and terror and its involvement in the subversion of other countries, and asserted that, even if Qatar committed to this, it would be required to provide guarantees, since the Gulf states have no faith in the Qatari leadership.

It should be noted that the four Gulf countries broke off their relations with Qatar on June 5, 2017 on the grounds that it supported Iran and various terror organizations and undermined the stability of Arab countries. The four imposed a comprehensive diplomatic and economic boycott on Qatar, which was expressed in the cessation of diplomatic relations and an embargo on air, sea and land traffic to and from Qatar.[1] They also presented this country with a list of 13 demands that it had to fulfil as a condition for the renewal of the relations, which included breaking off its ties with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, stopping its collaboration with Turkey, closing down the Al-Jazeera TV channel and discontinuing its funding of terror.[2] Qatar, for its part, rejected these demands, claiming that they infringed on its sovereignty,[3] and tightened its relations with Iran and Turkey in order to overcome the economic difficulties resulting from the boycott. It also made efforts to increase its cooperation with the U.S.[4]


Anwar Gargash, (image: Twitter.com/anwargargash)

The following are translated excerpts from Gargash's article:[5]

"The Relationship Between Qatar And The Gulf States And [Other] Arab Countries Has Been Fraught With Numerous Crises"

"The first anniversary of what is known around the world as the 'Qatar Crisis' has passed, with no solution in sight. In fact, [the crisis] seems to have become a phenomenon we are going to have to learn to live with in the Gulf, amid the shrill media [exchanges] between Qatar and the four countries [boycotting it. These countries] have clearly expressed their concerns about the Qatari policy which has complicated matters in the Gulf and in the entire region, while Qatar, [for its part], feels isolated from its surroundings and sees its role shrinking and its dreams collapsing. [But] it must be noted that this crisis didn't spring out of nowhere and didn't come as a surprise... Rather, it was the natural outcome of the Qatari policy that inflated [Qatar's] importance and its role in the region, for it adopted an opportunistic approach that was not marked by loyalty or even by any [consideration for] the interests of the Gulf and of Qatar itself.

"From the start, the relationship between Qatar and the Gulf states and [other] Arab countries has been fraught with numerous crises, small and medium-sized, and it was [only] natural that the situation would lead to the crisis of 2013-14,[6] following which an agreement was reached. [But] the new [Qatari] emir, [Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Aal Thani], failed to uphold it, although in the presence of Gulf leaders in Riyadh he repeatedly stressed that he was committed [to it].

"These [bitter] residues, which built up since the [Qatari] coup of 1995,[7] no doubt greatly contributed to the lack of confidence in Qatar and in its upholding of its commitments. This is a central component in understanding the positions of the four states with respect to Qatar's foreign policy, which, since 1995, has adopted a plan disproportionate to its geopolitical heft. From the start it has attempted to fulfill its aspirations by means of its tremendous financial capabilities [and] through opportunistic collaboration with a collection of [elements with] conflicting interests – from Hizbullah and Syrian president [Bashar Al-Assad] to former Libyan leader [Mu'ammar Al-Qaddafi] and the Muslim Brotherhood. Doha strove to establish its regional presence by means of these collaborations, and also by hosting the American [Al-'Udeid] Air Base and by means of the Al-Jazeera TV channel.[8]

"Qatar began... to maneuver among the conflicting [interests]. [At first], its foreign policy initiatives were confined to mediation – an accepted international approach for small countries. But subsequently it sought a larger role, of a type that isn't dependent on economic interests, military force or an industrial foundation. From the start the plan was the fantasy of one man [i.e. the Qatari Emir], and capabilities were mobilized, networks were built and funds were expended to ensure its success. [The plan] was characterized by overwhelming opportunism, as evident from [Qatar's] normalizing of its relations with Israel in order to build bridges with the West [and] reinforce this plan.

"It is hard [to believe] that these extremely expensive and far-reaching political ambitions express the real interests of a conservative Gulf state with hereditary [leadership]. [Rather,] they are the expensive ambitions of a ruler who enjoys political games and can't stop playing them. This wouldn't have sparked opposition if [Qatar's] plan hadn't affected the stability of the region and the security of its neighbors... for sovereignty and independent foreign policy are among the [agreed-upon] norms of the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC], and there has never been opposition to the policy of any Gulf state. However, once it emerged that Qatar's private plan worked against the region's security and the stability of its countries, there was no option but to be honest and oppose [its plan]."

"Today, One Year After The Boycott Began, We Find That The Main Points Of Contention Remain – For Qatar Still Supports Extremism And Terror And Endorses Many Terrorist Plans In The Arab World"

"Today, one year after the boycott began, we find that the main points of contention remain, for Qatar still supports extremism and terror and endorses many terrorist plans in the Arab world. Evidence of this abounds, including Qatar's role in Libya and its support of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as its support of some Al-Qaeda affiliates in Iraq, Syria and Libya. Although the crisis led Qatar to sign certain [memorandums of understandings] with Washington, initial indications suggest that it is not upholding them. In this context, it is no secret that the terror list Qatar issued under American pressure was based on the list [issued by] the four countries against Qatar,[9] and there is a lot of other evidence as well.

"Another reason [the crisis persists] is that Qatar continues to be openly involved in undermining the security and stability of the four [boycotting] countries and of other countries. The famous tape of the Qatari emir and his foreign minister plotting against the Saudi king together with Al- Qaddafi[10] is one of the signs of the resounding political downfall. In addition, there were discussions in the GCC corridors of documented and systematic Qatari interference [aimed at] destabilizing Bahrain, not to mention its interference in Egypt and the UAE [aimed at] undermining their stability.

"[Examining] Doha's handling of the current crisis with four prominent Arab Gulf countries... we saw strange wrangling and outright lack of wisdom in Qatar's efforts to defend the one-man plan it has been leading since 1995. In the absence of any [Qatari] reassessment [of its policies] out of concern for its relations with its neighbors and surroundings, we saw Doha leveling accusations, waving the slogan of sovereignty and shrieking about injustice. We saw its minsters traveling the world [trying] to promote an unworthy cause, as though this was a PR war in which whoever screams loudest wins. Some countries benefited from this Qatari dream, enhancing their lucrative contracts [with it], realizing this was a good opportunity to make profits.

"It also turns out that Qatar's rationale in [this] confrontation and struggle was based on a distorted understanding of how international relations are handled. Now that there is no more hope of Western intervention in this Gulf affair, it emerges how indifferent and negligent the Qatari diplomacy was in its attempts to resolve its real crisis. For the real solution is that Qatar rethink its ways and relinquish its support of extremism and terror and its [involvement in] undermining the security of its neighbors in the region. That is easy to achieve if you are honest with yourself and with others."

"Nothing Has Remained Of Qatar's Role [In The Region] Except A Media [Mouthpiece] That Is Steadily Losing Credibility And Growing Weaker"

"Today, one year after [the outbreak of] the crisis with Qatar, we understand that the main factors that led to the crisis still persist, and that they cannot be dealt with without addressing Qatar's support of extremism and terror and unless Qatar stops harming others. But experience teaches us that the solution requires guarantees, for we have no faith in the Qatari leadership, especially after the 2013-2014 [Qatar crisis] and considering the wrangling and deception that characterized Qatar's handling of the crisis over the past year.

"As the crisis with Qatar continues, we see new alliances forming in the region, because Doha's role has become marginal due to its poor choices – and [its] occasional [acts of] destruction, bribes, or hyperbolic media coverage will not help it. The upcoming international and regional understandings will keep it from [forming] certain partnerships it is striving [to form]. In the second year of the [Gulf] crisis, Doha will continue its attempts to draw international attention to its isolation, but this will [now] be harder, for without wisdom it will make no progress and see no change in the arena or in the pressures it faces.

"As for the four [boycotting] countries, they have formed international ties that do not include their small neighbor [Qatar]... and nothing has remained of Qatar's role except a media [mouthpiece] that is steadily losing credibility and growing weaker. The four countries therefore have many options today in handling the regional arena and maintaining their alliance in order to bolster the security and stability of the region and combat extremism and terror, without this crisis having any impact on the magnitude of their presence in the regional, Arab or international [arenas]."

 

[2] Al-Ahram (Egypt), June 24, 2017.

[3] Al-Watan (Qatar), July 25, 26, 2017;  Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), July 25, 2017.

[4] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), June 7, 2017; Alarabiya.net May 2,  13, 2018; Al-Watan (Qatar), February 1, 2018; Rai al-Yawm (London), April 10, 2018; Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), April 11, 2018.

[5] Al-Hayat (Dubai), June 6, 2018.

[7] Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa, the father of the present Emir, deposed his own father in a bloodless coup in 1995.

[8] The reference is to the clear position espoused by the channel, which supports that Resistance Axis and comes out against Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain.

[10] The reference is to a recording from 2013 of a conversation in which then Qatari emir Hamad bin Khalifa and his prime minister and foreign minister Hamad bin Jassim, and then Libyan leader Mu'ammar Al-Qaddafi attacked the Saudi royal family. After the recording was leaked in 2014, press articles claimed that these two Qatari figures were plotting to divide and undermine Saudi Arabia. See alarabiya.net, June 7, 2017.