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What are the Qatari Concerns about Saudi Arabia?
Qatar, dissatisfied with the proceedings and culmination of the Mecca summits, has since voiced its concerns about Saudi Arabia’s war mongering tone against Iran which does not reflect the values of the Gulf Cooperation Council at large.
Criticizing the hypocritical nature of the Saudi call for Gulf States to unite against Iran, the Foreign Minister of Qatar, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, in an interview to Al-Jazeera, following the Mecca Summits, said: “The Gulf summit statement talked about a unified Gulf, but where is it amid the continuation of Qatar’s blockade?”
The US withdrawal from the 2015 Iranian Nuclear deal was initiated by former President of the US, Barack Obama has further intensified the tensions in Gulf.
His statements came out as a result of discontent towards the outrageous statements made by a top Saudi official which reflected Saudi intent to dominate the region while keeping Qatar at an arm’s length. During the Mecca Summits last month, the Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had urged Qatar to come to the “right path” for the Saudi-led bloc and to consider the lifting the two year long economic and political blockade.
Saudi Arabia: – The Bane of Gulf?
In a press briefing in London on Sunday, Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Thani also blamed Saudi Arabia’s rigidity over Qatar’s blockade as a major hindrance in the resolution of most regional disputes. He added that the protraction of the blockade on Qatar was only adding more fuel to the existing disputes all across MENA, which had subsequently made it quite difficult to resolve the disputes.
The blockade on Qatar by the Emirati-Saudi bloc was imposed on the tiny Gulf state in 2017 for alleged support to terrorism and for maintaining a close alliance with Iran, an arch rival of the Emirati-Saudi bloc. Qatar has since maintained an independent foreign and economic policy and has vehemently denied all accusations made against it.
Speaking to reporters in London, Sheikh Abdul-Rahman blamed Saudi Arabia for being the primary reason behind the failure of the resolution of most disputes in MENA. He went on to accuse both the UAE and Saudi Arabia for interfering in the domestic movements in Sudan, Libya and Somalia.
“Some of the countries, especially in the need for support of the Saudis and the UAE, have even been blackmailed to follow the same policy against Qatar. It creates a lot of instability in the Horn of Africa and the sub-Saharan area. Mainly the focus has been Africa, but there have been attempts elsewhere. Africa has been the focus because many of the countries are in need of help and support.” Sheikh Abdul-Rahman said while discussing Saudi efforts to install favorable regimes in Libya and Somalia.
Qatar, being an important strategic ally of the US, is expected to raise same concerns in a meeting between the Qatari Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said and the US President, Trump, at the White House in Washington next month.
Saudi Arabia, known for its notorious role in regional politics since its “Islamic Revival” movement in the late 50s and 60s, actively counterbalances its gulf opponent, Iran, who has been its arch-rival since the Iranian revolution in 1979. The Saudi-Iran dispute, being a predominantly proxy-prone conflict, has lead to numerous extended issues in MENA and has been further intensified in the recent years with the emergence of strong Iranian-backed proxies in response to Saudi-dominated regime changes.
Qatar’s Efforts to Mediate Between Iran and the US
The US withdrawal from the 2015 Iranian Nuclear deal was initiated by former President of the US, Barack Obama has further intensified the tensions in Gulf. Saudi Arabia, being a major ally to the US under President Donald J. Trump’s administration, has lauded the US withdrawal from the Nuclear Deal in 2018 along with the re-imposition of economic sanctions on Iran.
The installation of US military in the Gulf, last month, following the re-imposition of embargos, also termed as “psychological warfare” by Iran, has greatly added up to the growing tensions between the two countries leading to possible escalation of armed-conflict in the Gulf.
Many states, including Qatar, have committed to mediating between the two countries in order to avoid possible escalation of war. Qatar, being an important strategic ally of the US, is expected to raise same concerns in a meeting between the Qatari Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said and the US President, Trump, at the White House in Washington next month.
Talking to reporters in London, Al-Thani emphasized the need for both sides to “find a compromise” in order to bring the conflict to a halt. “We believe that at one point there should an engagement – it cannot last forever like this.”
Al-Thani reinstated Qatar’s narrative, supporting the de-escalation of conflict between Iran and the US, according to a statement published by the Information Office of Qatar’s Foreign Ministry on its official website. “At some point, there should be an engagement. It cannot last forever. If neither party is willing to engage in further escalation, both parties need to come up with some ideas to open the doors. We have to be active in advocating that.”, the statement read.
However, it is significant to acknowledge that Qatar’s priority at present would be its own relations with the Saudi regime and therefore, the Qatari Emir is also expected to take upon the issue of the prolonged blockade on Qatar in his meeting with President Trump to pressurize Saudi Arabia into removing the blockade from Qatar.