The issue of Qatar crisis is currently being discussed in International politics. Qatar is a tiny country with huge mineral resources like oil and gas. It has been gained a tremendous infrastructural wonders recent times. Recently the crisis with several gulf countries headed by Saudi Arabia has been a highly discussed in international politics. After rending diplomatic and travel relations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and several countries, the crisis has revealed to the media and various polarization started in Middle East politics.
What has happened all about?
There is a power tension in Middle East between two regional power Saudi Arabia and Iran. The two countries are seems to be daggers drown. Recently Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy has been reshaped particularly has become more arrogant to its counters by the Saudi crown prince. As a consequence, Quarter is listed to re-balance in Saudi foreign policy. Finally, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain severed relations with Qatar. On 5 June, 2017 they also gave Qatari citizens 14 days to have their territory and banned their own citizens from travelling to or residing in Qatar. Egypt also cut diplomatic ties but it didn’t impose restriction on its 180000 citizens living in Qatar. Yemen, Maldives and Libya’s eastern based government later followed Suit. In addition, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt closed their airspace to Qatari aircraft and said foreign airlines would have to take permission for over flights to and from Qatar.
Qatar’s only land border was also closed by Saudi Arabia and ships flying the Qatari flag or those serving Qatar were banned from docking at many ports. Two states of the six member of Gulf Co-operation council (GCC) didn’t cut ties with Qatar, and these are Kuwait and Oman. Kuwait has offered to mediate the dispute.
What the reasons behind?
The Arab and gulf nations accused Qatar of destabilizing the region and claimed Doha had links with the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda. There was a previous diplomatic rift in 2014 between Qatar and other gulf countries. Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain pulled out their diplomats claiming that Qatar supported armed groups. However the border remained open and Qataris were not expelled. Tensions with Qatar generally revolved around its alleged support for political Islamic movements such as sheltering Muslim Brotherhood as well as complain about the Al Jazeera Media Network, which is based in Doha. These tensions were possibly exacerbated by the Arab spring in 2011, when Saudi Arabia and Qatar were seen as backing different sides. Another reason behind the scene is that US is unhappy to Al-Jazeera news channel for its unwrapping broadcast to US secrets.
How will it disturb Qatar?
Quarter is a developed country with high per capita income. But the problem is it is actually describe by “dependent development theory”. Though Qatar is rich in oil and gas but it doesn’t really produce its own food, about 40% of its food came in through the land border with Saudi-Arabia. Now the borders have been shut, food prices are high. Reports suggest that Qataris are stocking up on food in anticipation of food shortages. Qatari airlines is a major global airlines but it’s not larger allowed to use the airspace above Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE, that means flight to Africa and North America may have to make long tours. It results raising fuel costs, flight times and potentially ticket prices. However, the country has a big war chest -a more than $300 billion sovereign wealth fund that was founded in 2005 to grow the money made off the nation’s natural resources that should help it weather any financial hit.
What the demand to Qatar by its neighbors?
Actually the problem is relating ideological contradiction and the regional power politics. We can find the clue from the list of demand by Saudi allies. A ’13 points’ list was issued to Qatar, The most important demand are given below:
- Curbing diplomatic ties with Iran and close its diplomat mission there.
- Banning all ties to ‘terrorist organizations’ and handing over terrorist figures.
- Shutting down Al Jazeera and its affiliate stations.
- Closing a Turkish military base and halt joint military co-operations inside Qatar.
- Ending interference in other country’s internal
- Paying reparations and compensations for loss of life caused by Qatar’s policies.
If Qatar agrees to comply, the list asserts that it will be audited once a month for the first year, and then once per quarter in the second year after it takes effect. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.
How Qatar responded
Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Raman Al Thani said that it’s neighbours were demanding that “we have to surrender our sovereignty”. He stressed that it would “never do”. Above all Qatar refused to comply with an initial list of 13 demands. But the Amir of the country stated to sit for negotiation for several times.
A new alliance?
The crisis has forced Qatar to seek help its allies including Iran. Iranian media are reporting that the country will send ‘humanitarian aid’ shipment to Doha. Russia has also voiced support and Turkey has stepped in to send food. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan says “a very grave mistake is being made in Qatar” and has decried the isolation of the country as “inhumane and against Islamic values”. There certainly is a risk now that Turkey has firmly sided with Qatar that this would lead to increased tension with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt. But at the end of the day, Qatar doesn’t have the ability to withstand sustained pressure from its larger neighbors in the gulf, especially if the strategy is indeed being backed by the US.
What about the United States: a dilemma
The US might be expected to want the crisis to end quickly because Qatar hosts the largest American military facility in the Middle East. President Donald Trump was nevertheless quick to claim credit for the pressure being placed on the emirate, saying it might mark the “beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism” but his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, subsequently questioned the list of demands, acknowledging that some elements would be very difficult for Qatar to meet.
How the crisis could impact the world
Any kinds of instability in the Middle East tend to send up oil prices, and the larger prices stay high. So far oil and gas markets have been taking the crisis in their stride. Qatar is the World’s biggest LNG exporter. It has pipelines in the gulf and could retaliate by cutting off supplies to its neighbors.
What about World Cup
Quatar is going to host FIFA world Cup 2022. The gulf crisis has the potential to disrupt preparation for the 2022 World Cup tournament because of the aviation restriction and the closure of the land border with Saudi Arabia. But the Qatari committee in charge of delivering the world cup said in a statement that “construction is advancing rapidly across all the stadiums and infrastructure sites”.
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Saifa Mustari Reefa
student, International Relations
University of Chittagong