As Qatar ignores demands from the Arab nations that boycotted the country its inflexibility to fix the situation continues to prolong the diplomatic crisis.
It has now been a month since Qatar found itself in a diplomatic upheaval in the face of boycotts by its fellow Arab states.
In the time between then and now, it has been working hard to attest its innocence in the situation and has shown itself as a state unwilling to have its hand forced by those around it. Qatar’s strategy of claiming innocence while at the same time seemingly trying to put an end to the diplomatic rift through talks and appeals to other nations shows the clever maneuverings of its foreign policy agenda.
Instead of explicitly defending itself from allegations of supporting terrorist groups, Qatar has chosen to discount the accusations of its neighbors altogether and appeal directly to other countries to moderate the issue. One of Qatar’s ally’s Turkey has readily assisted the country providing food, diplomatic, and military aid. Turkey’s President Erdogan himself criticized the Arab ban, saying that “it’s as if a death penalty decision has been taken for Qatar”.
Indeed, with the country blockaded by the same neighbors it trades and interacts heavily with Qatar should have found itself in troubling circumstances. But the immense wealth of the oil-rich country has lead to it survive in the blockade for this long. In fact, with maneuverings designed to combat the Arab blockade, Qatar has brought about the interest of many western energy firms drawing in newer business despite what were to be economic hardships. With that said Qatar cannot survive isolated by its neighbors, and although it has found ways to dodge the adversities of the blockade it will still have to face undesirable circumstances. These circumstances only heightened by the rejection of Arab demands that have been recently made.
Arab demands for Qatar
On June 22nd Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates issued a 13-point ultimatum to Qatar in exchange for lifting the embargo on their country. The demands most notably included closing the state-funded broadcaster Al-Jazeera, limiting diplomatic ties with Iran, and shutting down a Turkish military base.
After a 10-day period, Qatar was to decide if they would agree or reject the proposal. In between that period Qatar’s director of government communication, Sheikh Saif al-Thani responded to the ultimatum by saying the blockade itself “has nothing to do with combating terrorism [but] is about limiting Qatar’s sovereignty”. The foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed refused to negotiate until ties were restored between the five countries.
The demands by the four Arab countries have been effectively rejected by Qatar. All though the rejection was not made public, Egypt’s foreign minister said that the Qatari response was one that “did not realize the gravity of the situation” after the retort was discussed by the four Arab nations in a meeting in Cairo. Although the four countries haven’t countered Qatar’s decision, sanctions are still ongoing and the four states will meet in Bahrain soon to discuss actions moving forward.
As for Qatar, the country will have to find a way to justify its prolonging of the situation. The significance of Qatar’s refusal of the 13-point ultimatum lies in the content of the demands. Although many of the demands are admittedly far-reaching, the rejection of all points and the refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of some of the demands such as the call to end affiliation with terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hezbollah show that the country is not willing to overlook its political sway to stop the diplomatic crisis.
As of now, Qatar finds itself in the same position it was a month ago. It has found ways to combat the blockade and appeal to other countries to defend itself from its neighbors. But it cannot survive for long if it does not deal with the issue head-on. For Qatar to return to normality, it must stay in talks with the Arab nations that have boycotted it.
To ignore its neighbors, Qatar will decidedly put too much effort in dodging the blockade without fixing the crisis at hand. Qatar needs to own the wrongs it has done, or at least prove itself innocent of them. Disregarding and ignoring the issues that have resulted in the diplomatic crisis may help the country survive for now; but for it to be rid of the conflict altogether, Qatar will need to take ownership of the situation.
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