Doha will not yield to the pressures; the crisis seems to grow despite various attempts
Past June, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Egypt announced a boycott against Qatar accusing the small Gulf country of creating instability in the region by supporting terrorist groups. Shortly thereafter, Yemen, Libya, and the Maldives joined the measure. A small list of demands was drafted; it mainly asked for the dissolvement of the economic links with "terrorist organizations", Iran's withdrawal and the closure of Al Jazeera TV.
Qatar didn’t respond as expected. The nation became closer to Iran and Turkey. Also, they are importing the food their neighboring countries refused to sell to them. After 6 weeks of boycott, the small country has not met any of the demands. "They have pushed Qatar directly into the hands of Iran and Turkey in isolation with an economic blockade, requiring immediate shipments of basic goods from these countries”, affirmed Bassima Alghussein, an analyst from the region. It is important to remember that Qatar does not trust Iran and Iran does not trust Qatar, so “it is necessary to be careful when talking about the level of interaction between the two countries”, emphasized Alghussein. For Iran, “to sell basic goods to Qatar is good business and, politically speaking, is a direct attack to Saudi Arabia”, declared Peter Salisbury from the Royal Institute of International Affairs.
Last week the United States and Qatar signed an anti-terrorism agreement which may help make the neighboring country in the Gulf reconsider its ideas about having a connection with terrorist groups. The Trump administration has been cautious about this subject; it is not convenient to be aggressive in this region where small decisions can carry significant consequences.
For the experts cited above, the alliance against Qatar is not giving any immediate result but there seems to be no signs of an alternative plan. For them, this is the result of international pressure and also the fear of letting Iran become more relevant in the Gulf. Salisbury thinks that while the boycott continues, Qatar will keep looking for new economic associates. Qatar Airways, one of the companies most affected by the boycott, has been using other strategies to continue operating, even if their flights are one or two hours longer.
Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt will continue with said measure until Qatar feels deeply affected, but what can be concluded is that the nations feels indifferent to the boycott and can continue this way for years to come. “As long as the price of the gas keeps rising, Qatar won’t need anything from his neighbors; with the high incomes that the gas represents, all the necessities of the country will be satisfied”, affirmed Salisbury.
Latin American Post | Carlos Eduardo Gómez Avella
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