Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 8th 2017 Contents Here are the main developments that led to the
unprecedented crisis between Qatar and its Gulf
On May 20, 2017, Qatar says it is the victim of a
smear campaign and rejects accusations of it sup-
porting "terrorism" ahead of a landmark visit by US
President Donald Trump to Saudi Arabia.
Trump and Saudi King Salman sign a "strategic
vision" agreement to intensify ties in defence, eco-
nomics and other areas.
In a speech in Riyadh on May 21, Trump urges the
international community to isolate Iran and calls on
Arab and Muslim states to freeze channels of funding
for groups including the Sunni Muslim Islamic State
jihadists and Lebanon's Shiite movement Hezbollah.
The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-
Thani, meets Trump on the sidelines of a summit
On May 24, Qatar says its national news agen-
cy has been hacked by unknown parties who have
posted "false" statements attributed to the emir,
in which he speaks favourably of Iran, Palestinian
Islamist movement Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood
Qatar denies all the comments and says it is in-
vestigating the alleged hacking, but Gulf media
continue to run the statements.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin
Abdulrahman Al-Thani says Doha is the victim
of a "hostile media campaign"
, particularly in the
On May 28, United Arab Emirates state minister
for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash says Gulf coun-
tries are going through a new "deep crisis"
Qatar without naming it to "change its attitude and
re-establish confidence and transparency"
On June 2, a Qatari official says FBI agents are
helping Doha in investigating the source of the al-
On June 5, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, the UAE,
Yemen and the Maldives cut ties with Qatar, accusing
it of backing terrorism.
It is accused of backing radical Islamist groups
and of not taking a sufficient distance from Iran,
Saudi Arabia's regional rival.
The break-off in relations goes hand in hand
with economic measures, such as closure of land
and maritime borders, suspension of air links and
restrictions on movements by Qataris.
Doha residents flock to stock up at supermarkets.
A Saudi-led Arab coalition fighting pro-Irani-
an Yemeni rebels announces it is ending Qatar's
Turkey calls for dialogue and says it is ready to
help defuse the row.
Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman says
the latest developments involving Qatar could herald
a broad anti-terror alliance including Israel.
On June 6, Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad
Al-Sabah travels to Saudi Arabia for talks aimed at
resolving the crisis.
Air traffic is disrupted in the Gulf after several
large Arab airlines stop flying to and from Qatar.
More than 30 Qatar Airways flights are cancelled
to and from Doha.
Trump accuses Qatar
Trump says isolating Qatar could mark the "be-
ginning of the end to the horror of terrorism" and
backs Saudi Arabia and its allies. He suggests Qatar
is funding extremism.
JUNE 8 • 2017 guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
INTERNATIONAL | BG23
Gulf Arab nations often get
considered one giant fami-
ly, as many ruling tribes in-
termarried and have long
ties stretching back to
the days before oil turned
dusty fishing villages into skyscraper-stud-
But if the last day has proven anything,
it's that every family fights.
The diplomatic standoff between Qatar
and its neighbours has exposed longstanding
faults running just under the surface of the
Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional body
meant to serve as a counterbalance to Iran.
None of the key countries---Qatar, Bahrain,
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates---
appears to be backing down, calling into
question the unity of the council just as it
seeks to portray itself as standing up to Iran.
"The new hawkish policy reflects an end
to decades-long tradition in the Gulf Co-
operation Countries that seeks to maintain
dialogue irrespective of policy differences,"
wrote Ayham Kamel, Middle East director
at the Eurasia Group, calling the damage to
Gulf relations "irreparable."
"Saudi Arabia's relationship with Presi-
dent Trump is the linchpin of Riyadh's new
approach. The implicit message to all the
Gulf leaders is that Saudi Arabia remains the
centre of gravity in Gulf affairs."
The Gulf Cooperation Council, known
by the acronym GCC, formed in 1981 in
the wake of Iran's Islamic Revolution over-
throwing the shah and installing its clerically
overseen government. By the time ink dried
on the agreement, Iraq had already invaded
Iran, sparking a long, bloody war between
the two countries that spilled into the waters
of the Persian Gulf and worrying the Sunni
Arab members of the council.
Typically, heavyweight Saudi Arabia has
dictated major foreign policy decisions
across the council, which is headquartered
in the kingdom.
Saudi Arabia, home to the holiest sites in
Islam, views itself as the protector of the
Sunni faith as well. Both it and the Unit-
ed Arab Emirates also view themselves as
providing the military power necessary to
counter Iran, especially after the 2015 nu-
clear deal Tehran struck with world powers.
But there always have been cracks. The
sultanate of Oman long has maintained its
distance, serving as a crucial go-between
Iran and the West. Kuwait, home to Shiites
and Sunnis living together in peace, has
served as a mediator as well.
But while those countries quietly stand
apart, Qatar has gone loud. While prac-
ticing Wahhabism, an ultra-conservative
version of Islam standard in Saudi Arabia,
Qatar allows women to drive and foreigners
to drink alcohol.
Qatar openly embraces officials from the
Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni Islamist group
that other Gulf nations view as a threat to
their hereditary rule. It maintains relations
with Iran as it shares a massive offshore nat-
ural gas field with the Islamic Republic. And
its Doha-based Al-Jazeera news network
didn't hesitate to go hard after autocratic
rulers amid the protests of the 2011 Arab
That, coupled with long-standing allega-
tions from the West of Qatar allowing or even
encouraging funding of Sunni extremists,
appear to be what finally tipped Saudi Arabia
and others into taking action.
Even US President Donald Trump ap-
peared to line up with them in a tweet Tues-
day, writing: "Perhaps this will be the begin-
ning of the end of the horror of terrorism."
Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Moham-
med Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani warned that
the crisis raised "a big question mark" about
the Gulf council.
"This brings about real questions about
the future of the GCC nations, which are
basically one people who share the same lan-
guage and have extensive family ties among
its people," he told Al-Jazeera.
"That said, however, we reject that some
in the GCC are trying to impose their will
on Qatar or intervene in its internal affairs."
Despite Sheikh Mohammed's strong
words, Qatar is vulnerable. It imports the
majority of its food, much of it over its now-
shut land border with Saudi Arabia.
Emirati and Saudi government officials
have offered no specifics about what they
hope to achieve with isolating Qatar. How-
ever, there have been some suggestions.
Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, an outspoken
member of the ruling family of the sheikh-
dom of Sharjah in the UAE, wrote Monday
that "it is likely that this time the Gulf states
will demand the complete shuttering of the
Al-Jazeera TV network before any mediation
can take place."
He also identified other Qatari media
outlets that could be closed, as well as said
Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas members
would need to be expelled.
"It must de-escalate the media coverage
and must sever ties with extremist groups
including, but not only, the Muslim Broth-
erhood and groups in Yemen," Al Qassemi
wrote in a column for Newsweek's web-
site. "Judging by the Qatari reaction so far,
it seems the Gulf states' patience will be
That's toned down compared to other
columns, which include one in the Saudi
government-aligned daily newspaper Arab
News calling Qatari officials "pathological
liars." Others warned that Qatar stood on a
"Qatar cannot continue to face two ways,
supporting groups and regimes that are
actively harming the region," Abu Dha-
bi's state-owned The National newspaper
opined in an editorial Tuesday. "The GCC is
a club, with common goals. If Qatar cannot
agree with those goals, it should not hope
to remain part of the club." AP
FILE- In this Saturday, April 7, 2012 file photo, the new high-rise buildings of downtown
Doha, photographed in the background as Qatari women and a man walk by the sea in
Doha, Qatar. Qatar, now facing a diplomatic crisis with other Arab nations, is a small
country with a big history of turmoil and coups as it became one of the world's top
suppliers of natural gas and now plans to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Links Archive June 7th 2017 June 9th 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page