*It is high time that Saudi Arabia and the UAE began a climb down
The continuing blockade of Qatar makes no sense and it is high time that Saudi Arabia and the UAE began a climb down, the London-based Financial Times newspaper has opined.
A sustained propaganda campaign which involved all types of tactics has failed thus far to intimidate Qatar into bending to the will of rival dynasties, the paper said. "It is symptomatic nonetheless of how riven the Gulf states still are 10 months since Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates initiated a trade and diplomatic embargo on Qatar, to the detriment of all."
Saudi Arabia has long resented the reluctance of the geographically smaller nation on its eastern flank to accept a shadow role, the paper said. Instead, with the independent powers of patronage that Qatar has cultivated thanks to its prodigious gas reserves, Doha has adopted a consistently independent foreign policy stance.
Qatar’s support for the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, and the revolution in the Arab media engendered by the Doha-based broadcaster Al Jazeera, have made it a wayward member of the club in the view of rival dynasties. They have not forgiven Qatar either for its wholehearted backing for the uprisings that swept Syria, Libya and Egypt during the Arab Spring, when Saudi royals feared their own powers could come under threat.
Financial Times in its editorial said: "These differences could have been resolved with diplomacy. The ambitious Saudi crown prince, Mohamed bin Salman, in concert with his counterpart in Abu Dhabi, Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, chose instead to escalate the feud into another crisis that the Middle East does not need."
Among their initial demands were that Qatar close Al Jazeera; scale back co-operation with Iran, with which Qatar shares its gas; evict a Turkish military base; and sever ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. They also required the country to submit to regular compliance checks.
Financial Times said the blockade has not been able to break Qatar's will. "The emirate can afford, however, to weather the storm. It is the richest nation per capita in the world. Moreover, damage to the investment climate in the Gulf has been shared by all. Sensibly, Doha has resisted the temptation to retaliate. It has also, by most accounts, rowed back on foreign adventurism.'
The paper said the onus should be on the states that created this crisis to bring it to an end. "Given how far Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have gone to whip up anti-Qatari sentiment, a sudden climb down is unlikely. But it is high time they moved in that direction. Toning down the rhetoric would be a start. Lifting the blockade incrementally should be the next."
For the US, Qatar is an important ally and hosts the country’s largest offshore air base. "US President Donald Trump seems now to be losing patience. He has offered to host a Camp David summit in September. The parties to this needless dispute should use the months before to start a thaw," the FT opinion piece concluded.
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