Background

In 2014 a small incident occurred between Qatar and GCC countries related to funding and supporting terrorist organizations in the Middle East but later the dispute was solved peacefully.

Qatar crisis: new geopolitics in Middle East?The similar incident sparked again on May 23, 2017 when the fake news was aired on several UAE- and Saudi-owned networks attributing hack false statements to the emir of Qatar. This led to a series of serious problems among the GCC countries. Thus, on June 5, 2017, Saudi Arabia went further and declared severing bilateral diplomatic relations with Qatar. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE provided Qatari embassies with 48 hours to implement their respective departure orders, while recalling their own diplomats and charge d'affaires. Those countries also gave Qatari citizens who are residents in or visiting the UAE two weeks to depart and ordered their own citizens in Qatar to return. 

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt closed their land, air and sea passage to all vessels and vehicles coming from or going to Qatar obviously imposing travel and economic ban on Qatar.

While Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Yaman totally cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar, the likes of Maldives, Mauritania, Comoros, Niger and Libya (Tobruk) downgraded diplomatic relations or recalled ambassadors from Qatar. 

 

What is behind Qatar fallout?

There are many reasons why this conflict arose:

Primarily, Qatar and Qatar-sponsored TV channel were accused supporting and funding of terrorists. Qatar hosted Muslim Brotherhood leaders and the exiled leaders of Hamas and supported Gaza. It caused confrontation between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel. Qatar was blamed to give assistance to the terrorist organizations such as Daesh, al-Qaeda, al-Shabab and the Hashd al-Shabi and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, while another militant group, the Afghan Taliban, has an office in Doha, Qatar's capital.

As a second key reason led by GCC countries is Qatar interfering internal affairs of respective countries.

The next target is that Qatar keeps friendly relations with Shiite Iran so it bothers Sunni Saudi Arabia. Under Donald Trump administration the relations between the U.S. and Iran were sieged again. Trump`s call on Arabic countries to severe diplomatic ties with Iran may also have an impact on crackdown movement against Qatar.

According to CNN and The Guardian, the Qatar crisis was planned by Russia. All the false statements were designated by Russian hackers to deteriorate close ties of Qatar with the U.S. and to make Qatar a Russia ally. 

But the real reason may be connected with economy, namely with Qatar's regional natural gas dominance.

According to Zero Hedge, Qatar`s eagerness to extend a pipeline, connecting Europe to its vast natural gas deposits would put Gazprom`s monopoly of European LNG supply in jeopardy. Russia, therefore, had been firmly, and violently, against this strategy from the beginning; Putin`s solid support to the Assad regime and the Kremlin's desire to prevent the replacement of the Syrian government with a puppet regime might also be explained in this context. Now, in a separate analysis, Bloomberg also debunks the "official narrative" behind the Gulf crisis, suggesting that Saudi Arabia’s isolation of Qatar, "and the dispute’s long past and likely lingering future are best explained by natural gas.”

 

Positions Great Powers and other countries hold

The Foreign Ministry of Qatar condemned the ban, arguing that it is violation of Qatar's sovereignty under international law. The head of Qatar`s foreign office, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, said that Saudi statements regarding his country were contradictory: on one hand, Saudi Arabia claimed Qatar was supporting Iran, on the other hand, it claimed Qatar was funding Sunni extremists fighting against Iran.

The UN called for the short-time resolution for Qatar crisis.

 

The U.S. position

"The nation of Qatar unfortunately has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level," "So we had a decision to make, do we take the easy road or do we finally take a hard but necessary action. We have to stop the funding of terrorism. I decided ... the time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding," Trump told reporters at the White House.

Additionally, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson noticed that: "We call on the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to ease the blockade against Qatar" Tillerson told reporters at the State Department that the crisis, which has cut transportation links and trade, had begun hurting ordinary people in Qatar, and that it was impairing business dealings and harming the U.S. battle against the Islamic State militant group.

Finally, the U.S. calls Gulf countries to find a peaceful solution for current crisis.

 

Turkey`s position

“I’d like to say that we don’t find sanctions against Qatar right,” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkish President, said at the gathering in Ankara. “The most appropriate way for the Gulf Cooperation Council countries to solve their internal issues is through dialogue. In this regard, we admire Qatar’s constructive and cool-headed approach.”

Erdoğan has ratified two deals allowing Turkish troops' deployment to Qatar and training the Gulf nation's gendarmerie, according to the presidency. He expressed disapproval of the sanctions imposed on Qatar by several Arab countries and added that Turkey “will continue and develop" ties with Qatar.”

 

Russia`s position

"We cannot be glad about the situation, when relations between our partners are getting worse," Lavrov said, according to Russian state-run media.

According to him, unity on the matter must be forged in the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council and among nations: "Every problem should only be solved with a dialogue. The format of dialogue among the states of Persian Gulf is the most appropriate format for such dialogue."

Moreover, countries including, the UK, Germany, France, Israel, Pakistan, India, Gabon, Eritrea condemned blockade of Qatar and called to seek constructive dialogue for the settlement of the crisis. 

Kuwait and Oman did not join to the alliance against Qatar as members of GCC. Kuwait is suggested to be a mediator during peace process.

 

Impacts of the crisis on Qatar 

Air travel: Large airlines based in these sanction-imposing countries, including Emirates, suspended flight service to Qatar. Gulf Air, EgyptAir, FlyDubai, Air Arabia, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Etihad Airways cancelled their flights to and from Qatar. Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates are also barred overflights by aircraft registered in Qatar. Instead Qatar has rearranged flights to Africa and Europe via Iran.

Finances: According to the International Monetary Fund it was too soon to judge the economic impact of the diplomatic crisis. Standard & Poor's downgraded Qatar's debt by one notch from AA to AA- as the Qatari riyal fell to an 11-year low. Qatar's stocks market plunge 7.3% to their lowest level in more than a year and has plummeted 9.7 percent in the past 3 days. 

Qatar`s main share index dropped more than 7% since June 5.

Energy: Qatar is a global leader in liquefied natural gas production. Despite the severing of ties, Qatari natural gas continues to flow to the UAE and Oman through Abu Dhabi-based Dolphin Energy's pipeline. The pipeline meets about 30-40 percent of UAE's energy needs. Shipping constraints from the crisis have also rerouted multiple shipments of oil and gas to and from the Gulf, which has caused reverberations in many local energy markets. On June 8, 2017, the United Kingdom, with nearly a third of all imported gas arriving from Qatar, gas futures spiked nearly 4 percent.

Food: About 40% of Qatar`s food is believed to come in through its land border with Saudi Arabia, which has been closed. Currently, Turkey and Iran are the major exporters of food to Qatar by air and sea.

Construction: A new port, a medical zone, a metro project and eight stadiums for the 2022 World Cup are just some of the major construction projects going on in Qatar right now. Key materials, including concrete and steel come in by ship but also by land from neighbouring Saudi Arabia. The closure of that border could, as with food - push up prices and lead to delays. A materials shortage is already a threat that looms over Qatar's construction industry. This risks making things worse.

A lengthy closure of the airspace and land borders would "wreak havoc on the timeline and delivery" of the World Cup, says Kristian Ulrichsen, a Gulf expert at the U.S.-based Baker Institute.

 

Current situation

Qatar declared to be ready for mediation to resolve the crisis that has seen a group of nearby countries move to isolate the emirate over claims it supports Islamist extremist groups.

"We are willing to sit and talk," Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, the foreign minister, said Tuesday in an interview with CNN's Becky Anderson.

He said the "progressive and modern" country believes in diplomacy and promoting peace in the Middle East.

"We are not a superpower here, we are not believing in solving things with confrontation," he said.

Al-Thani persisted that the country was combating terror financing and "protecting the world from potential terrorists."

 

In conclusion it should be noted that the current situation among counterparts remains complicated and tough. The UN, the U.S. seek to find profitable and relevant solution for the dispute. Turkey pledged to settle the issue by the end of Ramadan. India and Kuwait constantly monitoring Qatar crisis. But instead of these efforts no resolution has been reached yet.

 

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