x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 December 2017

A new geopolitical reality dawns on us

Despite the GCC going on without Qatar, US pressure must be kept up on Doha to comply

Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. Giuseppe Cacace / AFP
Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. Giuseppe Cacace / AFP

With Qatar evermore adamant on its stance of dissent and ambiguity, the Gulf Cooperation Council is officially pondering life after Doha.

This was revealed in a series of tweets on Wednesday by Dr Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, who said that the break with Qatar has matured from a temporary measure into a potentially permanent policy of the quartet, or “a new set of relations replacing old ones”, as he phrased it.

This could, in practice, mean Qatar’s de facto suspension from the GCC. Dr Gargash has emphasised that the altered arrangement will be bolstered by new relationships. The quartet’s objective, he explained, has all along been to confront extremism and enhance regional stability. Qatar’s policies have catastrophically undermined these goals.

Qatar said it wanted to engage in talks, but as long as the vast chasm between Doha’s words and its actions remains, the quartet cannot but consider dialogue a futile exercise. If anything, the crisis has exposed the extent of Doha’s ideological distance from its neighbours. The quartet has decided to draw the line at this.

Qatar’s isolation by the quartet is already yielding constructive results. The ceasefire in Libya brokered this week in France came about after much hard work and diplomatic efforts. Yet another important factor was the fact that Qatar was too preoccupied with the crisis to be able to meddle or play the spoiler.

The arrest in Yemen on Wednesday of two men on Qatar-related terror charges scarcely a day after the quartet added 18 individuals and organisations to the terror list is another case in point. Identifying terror or extremist networks is the key to unlocking many of the conflicts that ail this region.

A new regional order is rapidly crystallising, but there is no substitute for concerted pressure. The United States must keep pushing Qatar to adhere to the agreement.