By Salman Siddiqui
The recent diplomatic dispute between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain is a “serious family spat” which eventually the countries will find a way to resolve, former ambassador of the US to Bahrain, Adam Ereli, told Gulf Times.
“Although hard lines have been taken by all sides, including Qatar that said recently that its foreign policy was non-negotiable, responsible heads would prevail to solve the crisis,” he predicted.
“After all is said and then, these people are family. The tribal bonds know no borders. You have Qataris that are part of Saudi families, then Saudis part of Qatari families, same in Bahrain and the UAE. I liken this (dispute) to a family spat. It’s serious but they’re still family.
“I think they will find a way to coexist because there is no alternative. Honestly, the GCC is a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. If you take out the different parts, it’s going to be bad for everybody,” he said.
Ereli said that it was clear that there was disagreement over the Muslim Brotherhood among the countries but expected that this issue would be resolved behind the scenes.
He said that no country in an integrated world economy could afford to go it alone.
“In 2002, Saudi Arabia stopped sending aggregates that you need to make cement for concrete to Qatar.
“What if they were to do that today? What will that do to the multi-billion dollar worth of infrastructure that is being built today? It will be like turning off the water or turning off the electricity,” he said.
If one decides to be adamant like Iran that did try to be on its own in the face of international sanctions, the country would not prosper. “You will survive, but you will not succeed. Qatar’s ambitions are significantly greater than simply surviving,” he said.
Commenting on the recent $23bn arms deals announced by Qatar, out of which more than $11bn will go to the US government and companies, he said they enhanced the political relationship with the US and enabled, for example, the Patriot System of Qatar to be integrated with that in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, etc, if ever there was a need in the future.
“So, in our mind, the recent disagreements between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain undermined this collective security for which the GCC was created in the first place.”
About the current state of US and Qatar relations, the ambassador said they were good. “In the Bush years, relations with Qatar were rocky. They’ve turned a corner under (President) Obama. And that’s a good thing,” he said.
Ereli, who was the US ambassador in Bahrain between 2007 and 2011, is now the vice chairman of a private firm, Mercury, which is involved with lobbying, public relations and giving strategic advice to governments and companies the world over.
He said that his company Mercury could help Qatar build its image in the US. “Having Al Jazeera America TV network was not enough to build a positive image,” Ereli observed.
“I think Al Jazeera America has a great future in the US but they’ve got to overcome some very entrenched negative attitudes to gain an audience,” he added.