Looking back at 43 months of articles on the Qatar Crisis from Al-Sharq al-Aawsat‘s Abdelrahman al-Rashed, a few quick takeaways (and, if you scroll down, all the articles in question – see previous post on the Deal of the Century for a similar review). As I find the time, I’ll try to add a few more individuals (maybe Qatari commentators as well, if I can find anybody who’s published consistently during this time period).
- Commentary dropped off pretty rapidly – number of articles in 2017 dwarfs subsequent years, and even within 2017 A.R. generally turned to other topics by October
- Accordingly, articles in June-July 2017 tend to forecast quick concessions by Qatar
- By late July 2017, there is a greater focus on other enactors enabling Qatar to hold out longer (Kuwait, Iran, turkey, Rex Tillerson)
- By the end of 2017, a greater focus on how the quartet has already succeeded in diminishing Qatar’s impact on the region – limiting the influence of Qatari media channels, forcing it to spend considerable funds adapting to the boycott/blockade, etc.
- From early 2018 through much of 2020, more of a suggestion that the quartet had largely moved on from Qatar, and could happily maintain the boycott ad infinitum unless or until Qatar’s leadership reconsidered
- At the end of 2020, a suggestion that reconciliation was possible, albeit with considerable suspicions of Qatari sincerity
- At the outset of 2020, “Qatar has fulfilled most of what is expected of it”
A few lines to highlight:
“The crisis will not end with kissing and hugging in the Arab way this time.” June 18, 2017
“It is unlikely that [Qatar’s] policy will change in light of the continuation of its old behavior even if a miracle occurs and reconciliation takes place.” December 9, 2018
“The unfortunate fact is that the Qatari regime is a chronic, incurable disease, and therefore boycott is the least harmful option.” – June 6, 2020
“Not a Qatari summer cloud” – 6.7.2017
For Saudi Arabia, Doha has become a conduit and a center for its opponents… it housed opposition calling for a change of government by force, and adopted the alliance with Iran, Hezbollah, and the current president of Syria for a whole decade. Then Qatar expanded the map of its rivalries until it became in trouble with more than half of the countries in the region.
Because its behavior is very dangerous, recent decisions were issued to cut ties, accompanied by the cancellation of everything that links these four countries to Doha, and the decision does not express cumulative anger, as has been said, but rather a final conviction that there is no benefit to it and no hope for reforming the authorities of Doha.
“Qatar is not Gaza” – 6.10.2017
The boycott will cost the Doha authorities financially, morally and politically, but it is not a blockade as long as its ships and aircraft are able to move about and trade with the world. A blockade would have to cut all passages, as happened with Iraq in the past. Therefore Doha must search for convincing excuses, or think of reconciliation, before the pressure increases.
“Washington’s Involvement in the Qatar investigation” – 6.12.2017
The problem with Qatar is that most of those mentioned in the [quartet’s] list are also on terrorist lists issued by official US institutions, including the Treasury Department. Consequently, the announcement of the lists is a dangerous development that does not limit Doha’s dispute with its Arab opponents, whom it used to challenge, but has expanded internationally.
“The situation in Qatar is difficult” – 6.18.2017
The attack is on Qatar and the groups affiliated with it, and the crisis will not end with kissing and hugging in the Arab way this time. That is why Doha should think carefully, as the case against it is growing. There is a group of countries that did not join, and did not reveal their support for punishing the Doha government, but are no less enthusiastic for the Saudi, Egyptian, Emirati and Bahraini steps and are ready to support it. The majority of countries in the region agree with the opinion that the Qatari regime has overstepped its boundaries and caused widespread devastation, threatened the security of the entire region, and became an aid to terrorist groups and aggressive states such as Iran. Consequently, these countries are in solidarity and will support targeting Qatar in order to stop its evil and raise the white flag.
“Qatar without its main weapons” – 6.20.2017
Qatar’s three advantages, money, media and diplomacy, became the advantages of its opponents from the four countries that tasted what the Qatari authorities were feeding the region. Suddenly, Qatar found itself subject to insults and ridicule, a sense of estrangement, and feared for its security and existence. And with the passage of time and the multiplication of calamities, it gradually discovered that it is a really small country, and that without its Gulf and Arab sisters it is worthless and will not be able to live in peace.
“Doha should raise the white flag” – 6.28.2017
In the face of the boycott of angry countries, Qatar is like a trapped cat who is looking for a way out. Instead of dealing with his crisis realistically and admitting that it has become a serious and big problem for everyone in the region, he is resuming acrobatic jumps, getting up to his old tricks. To the Qatari cat, we say: “Leave your attempts to jump out of the windows, for the crisis has one door that you must get out of – reaching an understanding with your neighbors. The guide of Iran will not save you, nor will the Turkish soldiers, nor the American circles that suggest a half-solution to you, nor the statements of the Germans, nor others who have sought refuge with you.”
“Doha will compromise in the dark” – 7.6.2017
Today, in a media celebration, the authorities in Doha boasted and disparaged, declaring their rejection and defiance of the boycott. It is good that Doha confirms its position, but you will hear later, after a month or two, that it has secretly sent mediators with a short message, saying that it is ready to accept all thirteen demands. Hypocrisy will repeat itself!
Qatar cares about its looks, cares about the world seeing it refuse, then it will be ready to concede far away from the spotlight.
A Qatari knowledgeable of the inside of things says, “Do not believe anything. They will even pledge to get rid of Al Jazeera and expel a number of its employees, and later they will announce the sale of the channel, and one of their affiliates will buy it, and it will remain affiliated with Qatar.”
“Does the American secretary lean towards Qatar?” – 7.12.2017
The four countries will not back down because they consider themselves to be defending their existence in a region in chaos. It is inconceivable that Iran would fight at a time when the Qatari government could threaten its existence and stab it in the back. The crisis has a clear objective, which is to deter Qatar and eliminate its change of project. Without accomplishing that mission, these countries’ very existence will be endangered.
“Doha’s failed mediation messages” – 7.26.2017
The dispute with Qatar will eventually come to an end, and we cannot say when or how, perhaps in the next year.
Qatar is the one that is under political pressure in the region and will reach a dead end, because it is no longer possible for these countries to have patience. Likewise, most of the countries in the region share with the four countries in complaining about the behavior and harm of the Qatari government. Most of the countries in the region consider that the Doha government targets their stability, and therefore consider responses that target Qatar a legitimate and necessary act. Is Doha able to bear the risks and consequences of its policies?
“Qatar and Kuwait’s Relationship with Iran” – 7.30.2017
All the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council must realize… that only together are they able to confront Iran, which has not stopped targeting the GCC. This is what the State of Qatar should be aware of even more than Kuwait, because for many years it has served Iranian policy and allied with it over the past decade, with support for extremist opposition Gulf groups in Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Bahrain, and even Kuwait. It is precisely for this reason that these countries cannot remain silent regarding Qatar’s irresponsible practices, because they open a dangerous door to the Iranians and incite the overthrow of regimes. What Doha is trying to do today, by bringing the Turks in one hand and rapprochement with the Iranians with the other, will be a burden on it more than it is a burden on others.
“The Qatar crisis and the occupation of Kuwait” – 8.4.2017
On the anniversary of Saddam’s occupation of Kuwait, we should all be aware of that cruel and precious lesson – that we should all be more keen on respecting relations and treaties, and on supporting the stability of each other. The Gulf states should be firmer in rejecting the actions of the Qatari government, and to stand with the demands of the four countries, because the quartet did not demand the removal of the Qatari government, but rather asked it to stop threatening their own security and existence. If Kuwait, and others like it, had taken a fair stand, then Doha would have rationalized and saved it from itself, and saved the whole region from Gaddafi’s mentality that runs its policy.
“The winner and the loser in the Qatar crisis” – 8.15.2017
Qatar’s strategy in the battle is to force the four countries to back down instead of responding. In the end, it will yield to most of the demands regardless of what it says or tries to do. It refuses to negotiate under the stated demands and principles, and it wants free negotiations. The four countries are not obliged to negotiate, as the current situation is completely comfortable for them. Especially since it reversed the game against Qatar. The state was the source of problems and crises to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE. Now Qatar is the one that is experiencing a number of crises because of these countries… In the end, Qatar will negotiate within the framework of the six principles, and may retreat from the rest of its formal expectations, such as holding negotiations on neutral territory. All this it could have done in the first week of the crisis, and saved itself a lot of trouble and embarrassment.
“Qatar-Iran alliance confirms the accusation” – 8.26.2017
Doha’s move to cooperate with the Iranian regime is a stupid step and the best propaganda for the quartet before international governments, as it is further evidence of the nature of the Qatari regime and its relationship to extremism and violence. It is difficult to justify to the wider Arab public, which greatly hates the mullahs’ regime in Tehran because of its actions in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.
“The Challenge – who guarantees Qatar?” – 9.10.2017
Qatar, despite its commitment to support nationalist and fascist Islamic groups, is in fact itself a regime without morals, principles, or ideology. It uses all groups only to support what it deems will enhance its political value in the region, which is the product of the illusion of greatness!
How can you trust a system that collects all these contradictions on its soil? It hosts the American base, the Muslim Brotherhood, extremist Salafi groups, an Israeli office, and the leaders of extremist Iraqi and Palestinian organizations. Its official media stations call for jihad against the Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, and at the same time American planes set off from their lands to fight those who listen to the calls for jihad.
For a regime that sponsors such a cocktail of contradiction, it is natural for it to adopt a policy fraudulently, sign covenants and break them. It is very natural that no one trusts it. This is the next challenge – how can what the Doha authorities pledge to be guaranteed, especially as they immediately (and in the first hour of mediation by US President Donald Trump) began to distort the content of the negotiation agreement!
“Qatar inside a pressure cooker” – 9.19.2017
As Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said: The Arab Quartet loses nothing by continuing to boycott Qatar, while Qatar loses because it is unable to live in the pressure cooker in which it was placed at a high temperature. Even though the port and airport are open, the Qatari authorities feel suffocated by the estrangement that they cannot bear.
“The story of the Saudi-Emirati invasion of Qatar!” – 9.21.2017
The four countries, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, declared themselves against Qatar, and there are more than ten silent Arab governments who are enthusiastically with them against Qatar. The program of action directed against Qatar is based on a strategy of isolating and weakening it, with the hope of achieving one of two goals: forcing it to change its policy, or at least weakening it so that it does not interfere in other affairs. However, no one said or even hinted at the intentions of toppling the Al-Thani regime or its leader. Many believe, and perhaps they are right, that the current Emir, Sheikh Tamim, is already defeated, and that the one who runs the helm of government and raises problems is his father, who appeared to abdicate power four years ago.
“Why did Qatar choose resistance?” – 10.6.2017
We see a state of intense fear and terror haunting the palace in Doha, like it has never seen before. Yet Doha was the one whose leadership was conspiring from the tea rooms and in front of the television to bring down many regimes in the region and intimidate governments for two decades, including Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. This fear of justified retaliation prompted Qatar to shout and ask for help from every country, no matter how far away or small it is. It spends an unprecedented amount of sums that we did not know, and the result is as I wrote earlier: It will bow [to the pressure] and sign, perhaps in closed rooms.
“How Qatar lost its most important weapons?” – 12.16.2017
The current dispute with Qatar is around stripping Doha of its main weapons, which are the media and media figures. The dispute accelerated the idea of seeking to control the information of society after it was stolen by terrorist organizations, such as “Al Qaeda” and “ISIS”, in addition to “enemy” governments, such as Iran and Qatar, whose supreme goals are the overthrow of political regimes.
“How did Qatar lose its fans?” – 12.15.2017
Perhaps the loss of billions of dollars is the least of the Doha government’s concerns compared to its propaganda and political losses, in what it considers its project, the source of its importance, and the center of its strategy. It thought it could frighten the governments of the region, by directing the masses from a distance.
“Doha and the arms purchase policy” – 12.17.2017
In the final outcome, the military deals did not give Doha much, if the aim behind it was to mobilize the positions of the major powers to force Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Emirates and Bahrain to end the estrangement. Qatari ships are still carrying camels to graze in Kuwait and planes bring cows from Britain and Australia, as the borders remain closed to Qatar.
But if the aim of Qatar’s deals is to secure their protection militarily, then this will simplify the problem and its possibilities. If the positions of the major concerned countries were up for auction, Qatar’s purchases are not a match for the four countries ’capabilities in outbidding interests and benefits as well. We must remember that the major countries may postpone their decisions, so time is not in Qatar’s interest. As for the four countries, they do not suffer from any pressure. Rather, they feel that closing borders and stopping transactions have prevented Doha from fabricating its internal problems.
“Love, the Qatari Way” – 2.6.2018
We no longer hear much about the dispute with Qatar except from one side, with interviews, statements and announcements issued by Doha officials. As for its opponents, they turned to other issues, such as Iran and Yemen, and their regional and international relations. This angered Doha, which wanted to make its dispute with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Bahrain a live issue that preoccupies international public opinion
There were no attempts to invade Qatar or an intention to do so, and not out of politeness or respect for the leadership of Doha, but because these governments know the dangers of invasion and change by force – Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait is not too far in the past. Qatar has the largest US base in the region, so whoever thinks this adventure would be taking risks.
“History according to the former Emir of Qatar!” – 3.13.2018
Why did Hamad, who rules from behind Tamim’s curtain, decided to produce a film in which he claims that he was the target of Saudi-Emirati-Bahraini conspiracies? The reason is that he cannot find an explanation for his people about why he was involved in plots against the countries of the region except by inventing stories. And if they had conspired, intervened, and returned Khalifa to power, they would have changed the history of the Arab region for the better. Since Hamad’s coup against his father, the region has been suffering from extremism and chaos because of it.
“Qatari campaigns against Abu Dhabi” – 4.18.2018
Doha has become hysterical, and it has launched various campaigns, believing that it will succeed in achieving one of the three: either removing Riyadh from the alliance of Egypt, the Emirates and Bahrain, weakening Riyadh and its alliance in its main battles such as Yemen, or introducing external forces to deter the Riyadh alliance, particularly the United States. In order to dismantle the alliance, the Qatari media machine questioned Abu Dhabi’s intentions against Riyadh, in Yemen, in America, and within the Emirates itself, but all that was said and written was just stirring the pot.
“Did the boycott of Qatar fail?” – 6.12.2018
The four countries do not need Qatar, neither politically nor economically, and therefore they can live without Qatar for a hundred years. Rather, the Qatari government appears lonely and isolated, and realizes that its people are not satisfied with the actions of its government by interfering in the affairs of other countries. The Qatari people are certainly not happy to see the doors of four countries, which were considered the most important of neighbors, closed in their faces.
“Reconciliation with Qatar” – 10.8.2018
In the absence, or more precisely, because of the absence of Qatar, Saudi Arabia has succeeded in implementing many social reforms and combating religious extremism. This proves that cutting the Qatari connection canceled the voices of the opposition-for-hire. It also proved that Saudi society is mature and ready for positive change, when foreign interference, especially from Qatari, stops. Qatar’s policy is based on incitement, attracting masterminds and politically employing them for their benefit.
After Qatar accepts the reality of the boycott, I hope it will instead spend its surplus money on buying more hotels and football clubs and we will all live in peace.
“Is it time to end the Cooperation Council?” – 12.9.2018
The Cooperation Council split today into two chambers, and if the crisis situation continues as it is today, the Cooperation Council for the Gulf States will end forever, except through bilateral agreements. It is not too much to blame Qatar and hold it the greatest responsibility for the GCC’s ruin, as it is the only one capable of ending present tensions. It is unlikely that its policy will change in light of the continuation of its old behavior even if a miracle occurs and reconciliation takes place.
“Qatar and the wedge between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi” – 8.2.2019
Doha’s practices are absurd, like children, and despite their failures, they try again and again. Qatar’s hostile policy has not changed since the mid-1990s, despite all the repeated Saudi concessions and silence about these plots. It was inciting and funding “Al Qaeda” groups to carry out their operations in Saudi Arabia in the 1990s and early 2000s, and later allied with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and funded Yemeni groups to strike Saudi Arabia. Then tapes appeared in which Qatari officials spoke with Gaddafi about their efforts to change and dismantle the Saudi state. Never did they deny these dangerous documents – and this plot was cooked up when the relationship between Riyadh and Doha was good!
“Who is Turkey’s enemy in Qatar?” – 8.15.2019
The Turkish base will not benefit Qatar in protecting it from Saudi Arabia or Iran. It is an expression of the constant, over-the-top Qatari contradictions, as they are still running in opposite directions, to Tehran, Washington and Ankara.
“3 Years of Boycott” – 6.6.2020
Some may say that ending the estrangement will end the Qatari campaign, but even if reconciliation is achieved now, Qatar will not stop its hostile activity that has continued since the 1990s, and has not stopped, even during the years of pretending to be friendship and brotherhood.
The unfortunate fact is that the Qatari regime is a chronic, incurable disease, and therefore boycott is the least harmful option.
“The conflict between sovereignty and piracy” – 6.18.2020
In any case, the resounding victory is that the judges of the World Trade Organization Committee considered that Saudi Arabia can prohibit what it considers harmful to its security – this is a sovereign right. It is a historic judgment, because it concerns many countries of the world, which are arguing today about social and media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Netflix. The worst for Qatar is that it did not get one dollar of the billion dollars that it was asking for!
“Is it a sincere reconciliation?” – 12.9.2020
We do not know yet how the reconciliation will proceed, because there is no dispute over territories or interests that can be settled in some way. The accusation is in intent, specifically one serious charge: conspiring to support the opposition to destabilize the security of states. And the boycott proved that life is comfortable without distorted relationships.
“Reconciliation with Qatar” – 1.6.2021
This is a purely political disagreement and not ideological, and therefore there is no justification for portraying reconciliation as a retreat, defeat, or lack of expectations, nor does reconciliation mean that the boycott was wrong.
During the past forty months, I think that Qatar has fulfilled most of what is expected of it, as the leaders of the “Brotherhood” and almost most of the opponents of the four countries left it, and it corrected its banking systems in question in accordance with the US financial authorities.