On June 5, 2017, the Gulf Cooperation Council led side bySaudi Arabia, and UAE kicked off a campaign to teach Qatar a lesson for goingagainst the agreement the council made. This has created tension, which seemsnot to end soon. The tension in the gulf has been there from the past, but thecurrent crisis came as a sudden shock due to the intensity it has. The currentdivergence is more serious than the previous crisis of 2014 where major GCCmembers withdrew their ambassadors from Doha (Gordon).
The Qatar crisis had an impact on thepolitical and economical stability of the Middle East as well as issues with securityimplications in the Persian Gulf. The rupture came after the remarks from the Emir of Qatar andthe reported April ransom payment by Qatar to Iran. This engagement quivers theSaudi led GCC allies.
However, the root of the problem goes deeper than that;the crisis emanates from the deep differences that have existed between Qatarand other GCC countries since the Arab uprising. If Saudi Arabia and its GCC allies exaggerate theirarm, they could drive Qatar to appoint it can opt to align herself with Iranand Turkey, which would further thwart the Gulf union and cause higher tensions(Gordon). The Middle East is a dreamer’s utopia: A place whose renowned urbanis the urban of peace, but whose most corporate characteristic so often seemsto be its perpetual war. (Roberts, 1995). The primary cause of the crisis isthe funding of and political support of groups GCC members have banned. TheIslamist groups are connected to the Muslim Brotherhood and AL Qaeda (Gordon11; Stephens 45). Worse still Qatar has been in business dealings with Iraniansaffiliates in the region. Qatar appears to have brokered a deal with Iran inwhich in return secures release of 26 Royals from Qatar.
Qatar is said to havebrokered deal in which the Royals were released in return a princely sum waspaid to the client, a militia called Kataib Hezbollah (Stephens, 41). SaudiArabia and its GCC allies closed sea and land routes Qatar; they further cancelledflights, expelled Qatar nationals and withdrew their diplomats from Qatar. Anumber of Qatar citizens (59) were labelled as the terrorist supporter andfinally prohibited Aljazeera and even further banned the expression of sympathyto Qatar (Gordon). The campaign, however, was unfruitful as this Anti-Qatarforce failed to quickly, force Qatar to agree to their demands. The July deadline passed, a new list ofdemand came which were not met, and the conflict worsened to a crisis, whichseems to be a long-term division. The political unity and stability of theMiddle East have been in jeopardy.
Qatarstill maintaining a good working relationship with the United States of Americaand began its public relations against UAE (Dahle, 4). A sudden harsher action from Saudi will further worsenthe tensions in the region, which could create a prolonged economic anddiplomatic impasse. This could have a negative impact on the Al-Udeid militarybase camp in Qatar by the USA. This could have an impact on countering the ISIScoalition in the region. The worst the crisis can lead to is a plunge into amilitary conflict in the gulf (Gordon). Half of the world’s identified oil and gas raw materials are situated inthe Middle East and the North Africa region; the region is popularly referredas MENA. The majority of these countries’economies rely on these commodities for export (Zafirov 192). Qatar isone of the determinants of oil for exchange, and one of the richest countrieson earth hence could marginally suffer from the Blockade and economic boycott(Lynch 14).
Qatar while suffering the blockade from GCC quickly found refugefrom Turkey who provided a source of foods and other goods alongside militaryassistance (Dahle 4). It is unlikely for Qatar to suffer from the economicsanctions or concessions posed by Saudi GCC allies. Qatar has a sovereignwealth of over $ 300 billion for a population of 300,000 citizens. This ensuresthe country will not feel a serious financial pinch in the near future. In addition, because the Gulf economies aresimilar, this means that Qatar has little exchange to the Gulf countries hencesuffering a less significant loss to their economy. It is only UAE, which constitutes of Qatar’stop five trading partners. Because the effects are so marginal, the GCC alliescan maintain their sanctions for a very long time (Gordon).The main security tension to Saudi, UAE and its GCC allies in Iran.
Forthe last decade, the GCC has always voted against Iran continuing with theirnuclear enrichment as per UNSC resolutions and a signing a bilateral counter-terrorismagreement with an exception of Qatar. Qatar has seemed to enjoyed goodpolitical ties with Iran, as they are the only Gulf country apart from Omanthat congratulated Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on his re-election. The April transaction that involvedKata’ib al-Hezbollah and Qatar, whichare linked to Iran according to Financial Times. Kata’ib al-Hezbollah is a Shia backed Iran militia, atransaction worth $700 million (Gordon). Due to this, transaction tensionssurged up in a sustained media onslaught that has portrayed Qatar as a threatto Persian Gulf stability and security. This has been among many GCC members often even in the public events,for example, during a military graduation ceremony on 23rd of May2017. This has remained to be the heartof the lasts argument on Qatar (Ulrichsen 9).
While it is debatable that Qatar behaviourduring the Arab uprising was mischievous, there seems a competition for theleadership of GCC as opposed to genuine security issues. It is unquestionableof how GCC allies feel about Radical Islam and Iran. Furthermore, it isunquestionable of their feelings towards Qatar’s approach to both issues (Ulrichsen,3). The more troubling and worse theongoing Qatar’s resistance to the demands of GCC ally states are handled, themore possible the union of Qatar with both Turkey & Iran. This will thenmove on into a diplomatic crisis growth, economic as well as the rise ofmilitary (Gordon). Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are currentlypreoccupied fully in the country of Yemen.
This makes them unlikely to be readyto take another regional conflict. However, such a development can be dangerousif GCC feels the Qatar threat is very significant to endanger their securityinterests or existence similarly to Saudi’s decision in 2015. There are chances of Saudi opting a militaryact the very way it responded to Yemen thereafter if Qatari leadershipcontinues in their current political plunge (Gordon). Qatar knows the US has aninterest in ensuring there is security in the region as long as their militarybase is still in Qatar (Gordon). The US shows little interest to move its baseout of Qatar.
(Marc Lynch, 2). The base is a very critical componentof the US campaign against Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. This is expressed by US refusal to removetheir Al-Udeid air base in Qatar. The USrecently praised the base for their “enduring commitment to regionalsecurity.
” The US also seems to lack alternatives to the state to Al-Udeidair base in Qatar (Gordon). This has provided an effective military deterrent (Marc Lynch, 2). Their campaign against Islamic Stateis significant, and they will do all to maintain it.
The Qatari leadershipseeing this advantaged have vowed not to give in to the terms from Riyadh. Theyhave termed it “presumed guardianship which compromises the independenceof its foreign policy” (Gordon).The Qatar crisis is a serious diplomatic issue that needs to be solvedurgently; it can affect the economic, political stability and security of thegulf if the crisis is mishandled further. The tension in the gulf has been there from the past, butthe current crisis came as a sudden shock due to the intensity it has. Qatar knows the US has an interest in ensuring thereis security in the region as long as their military base is still in Qatar.
Qatar is one of the determinants of oil for exchange, and one of the richestcountries on earth hence could marginally suffer from the Blockade and economicboycott. The contentionsbeing on the issues on how to deal with Iran, Political Islam and regionalleadership which Qatar seems to be drifting away and creating a rebellion inthe Persian Gulf. The crisis has ended up being speculative, with thesharp division from Saudi Arabia, which has led to more confusion in solvingthe crisis.