It’s been almost a month since the Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain smeared their bilateral ties with Qatar, and the rift has final 48 hours to decide its fate. Can it be resolved? Is the Qatar-Gulf rift repairable, ever?
Considered as one of the greatest Gulf crisis, major Gulf nations cut off their relations with the small, oil-rich, rich country – Qatar. The crisis began just a few days after US President Donald Trump’s visit to the Kingdom, during which he kind of signalled to cut out Iran because it seemed to be a ‘mastermind of conflict and terror’. With allegations of supporting terrorism and extremist groups, the Gulf nations made 13 demands to end the blockade imposed on Qatar; which included demand to shut down the Al Jazeera Media Network, to scale back ties with Iran and to close a Turkish military base. A deadline of 10-days was given for Qatar’s compliance on the 13 points, which was later extended by 48 hours.
Qatar, on the other hand has made it very clear that it will not negotiate the 13 demands and will consider staying central to its sovereignty, calling the demands of Gulf nations ‘un-negotiable’. To be honest, the list of demands is not only unrealistic, but many of those are literally vague, forcing the sovereign state to align itself in terms of military, economy, politics and sociality with the GCC nations which would jeopardize the independence of Qatar. Whereas, the Gulf nations are firm about their demands or a permanent cut off from Qatar. At this point, the crisis is stuck at a standoff with neither side backing down, at least not publicly.
Rejecting the allegations of ‘terrorism’, Qatar is not ready to kneel to its larger neighbour. Interestingly, the US officials located in Qatar have confirmed there are no plans to relocate the massive American military base south of Doha, while at the same time Trump backed the Saudi-led blockade, quoting it as “beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”. UAE stated that this rift could possibly not be solved for years.
Regardless of what happens next, and the outcomes of the dreaded Gulf crisis, something in the GCC has been broken that may not be fixable. There is serious lack of trust, even among allies like Saudi and UAE who still can’t see eye-to-eye on some agendas – Yemen, for example. What the GCC stands for has surely been damaged, and it needs immediate roll back, or it can end up being very sour.