Qatar’s blame game consecrates impasse in Gulf row
LONDON-Qatar marked the third anniversary of its row crisis with four Arab countries, the Arab quartet, by admitting the failure of its manoeuvres after having tried to place the blame for the ongoing dispute on boycotting countries.
“Unfortunately, the efforts of the past year have not worked, although there has been progress. It seems that the other side did not want to engage in real negotiations. However, mediation efforts by the Emir of Kuwait and the United States continue,” said Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in an interview with French daily Le Monde.
Claiming that Qatar is ready for dialogue, Al Thani implicitly admitted that the impasse was a direct result of Doha’s unwillingness to change course or make concessions.
“We remain ready to discuss a long-term solution, as long as it does not infringe on our sovereignty and does not violate international law,” he said, repeating the same excuses that Qatar used right from the beginning of the crisis to fully reject the demands of its neighbours.
The Arab quartet composed of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain, severed diplomatic, economic and travel ties with Doha on June 5, 2017, accusing Qatar of schemes to destabilise the region through its support to terrorist groups and coordination with arch rival, Iran.
Doha denied all accusations but failed to show evidence of any change of policy.
In his interview with Le Monde, Al Thani also played the card of self-victimisation, depicting the crisis as a gratuitous aggression.
“It must be understood that this crisis was manufactured from scratch, with a smear and propaganda campaign against Qatar, which had no justification and continues to this day,” he said, again failing to mention the reasons that led to the diplomatic crisis and avoiding comments on Qatar’s policy in supporting radical groups and maintaining close ties with Tehran.
Arab quartet countries have complained of the role played by Qatar-financed media in fuelling regional tensions and promoting extremism.
In its desperate moves to break isolation, Qatar has been recently trying to give its diplomatic crisis a regional scope by raising the alarm about what it frequently described as “divisions” within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and threatening to leave the bloc before retracting the idea.
In his interview with Le monde, Al Thani used the same strategy, stressing that Qatar’s boycott had damaged the GCC, which is still “paralysed,” claiming that political disputes are prevailing over the needs of GCC peoples.
The Qatari minister also confirmed earlier reports about the failure of US efforts to mediate the crisis. He, however, said Qatar remains “in close contact with the Americans.”
As the dispute drags on, Qatari hopes for a resolution on its own terms seem pretty dim; especially that Doha has so far refused to change any of its policies in order to reassure its neighbours about Qatar’s commitment to a common vision on matters of regional security.
The Qatari pursuit of mediations to pressure the boycotting quartet were also dealt a blow June 5, when UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the Gulf region has changed and could not return to how it was before.
“I do not think that the Qatar crisis, on its third anniversary, deserves comment,” Gargash wrote on Twitter.
“Paths have diverged and the Gulf has changed and cannot go back to what it was,” he said.
Al Thani’s comments to Le Monde echo similar statements by former Qatari Prime Minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani who had earlier shared successive tweets, June 4.
“On the anniversary of the siege imposed on us, I want first to salute His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of the country, for his wisdom and steadfastness in dealing with the situation which, unfortunately, destroyed the Gulf dream,” bin Jassim tweeted.
The former Qatari PM also engaged in the same blame game reflecting Doha’s inability to assume responsibility for the ongoing row and its failure to come out of the boycott without accommodating its neighbours’ demands.
The former Qatari PM resorted to the mantra of “the solution is in Riyadh”. He tweeted: “I confirm to them [the Arab quartet] that this is true, as they say. The solution is in one of their capitals, because the crisis started there, and not in Doha.”
According to experts, Bin Jassem’s words can only be interpreted as encouragement to Qatar’s rulers to perpetuate the continued impasse.