"Sister" Qatar: Qatari People Are Innocent Of What Their Leadership Is Doing
13 March 2014
By Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed
What is new in the Gulf dispute with Qatar this time
around is the collective punishment applied by Saudi
Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain when they decided to
withdraw their ambassadors from Doha.
The drama with Qatar is long-winded and has been
ongoing for about 20 years now. The country has been a
continual source of disturbance and trouble, truly a
Before I sketch a picture of what is happening, I want
to summarize the events in just one sentence: What is
driving this latest incident is mostly Qatari in
origin, and not necessarily a scheme directed against
anyone outside the country. This time, the Qataris
find themselves in a very embarrassing situation. The
same goes for the new government that wants to assert
itself using the language of the new generation.
I remember the very first dispute Qatar stirred up:
the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Doha in
1990. I was with a large group of journalists standing
at the door of the conference hall. When the door was
opened, the Saudi delegation headed by King Fahd Bin
Abdulaziz—may he rest in peace—walked out, with the
King appearing visibly upset.
We immediately found out that Qatar's former Emir,
Sheikh Khalifa, insisted on discussing only the issue
of disputed islands with Bahrain and rejected the
King's demand to dedicate the conference to discussing
the four-month occupation of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein.
The emir only agreed to this demand after other heads
of Gulf delegations threatened to walk out of the
conference. Six years later, Qatar dedicated its new
channel, Al-Jazeera, to attack Saudi Arabia for years.
It supported the rhetoric of extremism and the
marketing of Al-Qaeda's leaders and ideas, including
the call to expel the "polytheist American forces"
from the land of the Arabian peninsula—that is, Saudi
Arabia. A day after the American forces left Saudi
Arabia, Qatar welcomed them, building two military
bases for the US Army on its soil: the Al Udeid Air
Base and the Al-Saliyah Army Base. Then it stopped
talking about them.
Was this phase part of an attempt to build a
leadership role for the country or was it just to seek
status? Perhaps it was.
During the second decade, Qatar allied with Saudi
Arabia's rivals: Iran, Syria and Hezbollah. Even after
their horrible crimes—assassinating Rafik Hariri in
Lebanon and Hezbollah's occupation of West Beirut—the
Qatari leadership continued to finance their
activities. Later there was the alliance with Libya's
madman leader, Muammar Gaddafi.
All of this lasted until the Arab Spring erupted. Now
as Qatar's leadership has suddenly changed, the
escalation has intensified to support domestic groups
that threaten countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia and
Bahrain, as well as Sunnis and Shi'ites and leftists
and religious groups.
In its attempt to hijack revolutions, Qatar suffered
massive political and financial losses in Libya,
Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen, as parties bankrolled did
not manage to maintain their authority in these
countries. This is why Qatar changed its policy and
began to finance the civil and armed opposition. The
most dangerous Qatari adventure is its persistence in
funding the Muslim Brotherhood and their group against
the new regime in Egypt. Even with three television
channels, Qatar could not shake the Egyptian people's
support of army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi's regime!
Qatar, which previously lost and squandered billions
by supporting the Assad regime and Hezbollah against
Saudi Arabia, is repeating the same scenario in Egypt,
using money, advertising, international PR companies
and lawyers, in order to support the Brotherhood,
which is doomed to fail in Egypt because the military
institution there is much stronger. Qatar is thus only
capable of merely annoying the Egyptians. (One of them
told me they consider what is currently happening to
be like a chess game. I replied that it's really more
like a video game where you gain nothing and learn
The question is, will the Saudi, Emirati and Bahraini
decisions distress Qatar? No, I don't think so,
because just like other oil-rich Gulf countries, it
doesn't count on tourism or trade.
Withdrawing ambassadors remains a political move that
expresses a firm rejection any kind of chaos mongering
and announces that the Qatari people are innocent of
what their leadership is doing. The Gulf has long been
known as a beacon of stability and development—it is
others who are well known for stirring chaos.
Rashed is the general manager of Al -Arabiya
television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of
Asharq Al- Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly
magazine, Al Majalla. He is also a senior Columnist in
the daily newspapers of Al Madina and Al Bilad. He is
a US post-graduate degree in mass communications. He
has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs.
He is currently based in Dubai.