Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 July 2019

Qatar has created this serious crisis

The cutting of ties is an unprecedented step. But Doha has supported extremists too long
The emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani attends the final session of the South American-Arab Countries summit in Riyadh in 2015. Relations between Doha and other Gulf states have reached a new low. Photo: Faisal Al Nasser / Reuters
The emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani attends the final session of the South American-Arab Countries summit in Riyadh in 2015. Relations between Doha and other Gulf states have reached a new low. Photo: Faisal Al Nasser / Reuters

As a sign of the anger – indeed fury – of the Gulf states towards Qatar, the unprecedented step by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain of cutting ties with Doha is as serious a step as can be imagined.

The severing of relations will have consequences. All Qataris must leave the UAE in 14 days and all Emiratis must leave Qatar. People with jobs, people with families, people visiting will all be affected. The cutting of relations is one of the most serious rifts the Gulf Cooperation Council has experienced since its founding.

Yet it is a sign of how seriously the GCC is taking Doha’s two-faced policies that it has come to this. Doha has continued to support extremist groups, in particular the Muslim Brotherhood, even after their ideology has been exposed and after Doha has been given repeated chances to amend its policies.

This is not the first time that Doha’s political allegiances have led to a rift with its Arab neighbours. In 2014, GCC diplomats were withdrawn from Doha because of its support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

And yet, despite such a clear signal from its friends and neighbours, Doha has refused to break its links with the Brotherhood. But its support for the group is no mere difference in policy. The Brotherhood is actively working to undermine the government systems of all GCC countries – indeed, the astonishing aspect of Doha’s support for the group is that if the Brotherhood came to power or managed to gain widespread support, it would sweep away Doha’s ruling family.

The leadership certainly chooses its allies unwisely. Because the same false friendship is evident in the close ties between Doha and Tehran. Iran’s actions in the Middle East have cost Doha’s Arab neighbours blood and treasure. There are families in the UAE and Saudi Arabia who mourn their loved ones specifically because of Tehran’s actions. The regime across the Arabian Gulf is no friend to Doha.

This unprecedented step has not been taken lightly. But Qatar cannot continue to face two ways, supporting groups and regimes that are actively harming the region. The GCC is a club, with common goals. If Qatar cannot agree with those goals, it should not hope to remain part of the club.

Updated: June 5, 2017 04:00 AM

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