Christian Manrique’s new post
Christian Manrique analyzes Qatar under embargo and its consequences. His post underlines also how geopolitical instability throughout the Persian Gulf has deepened the current diplomatic crisis. The country is isolated, blocked, through the only land border from the South with Saudi Arabia, although there are other barriers.
Saudis have also blocked since June the small sovereign Arab state by air and sea thanks to its allies’ cooperation through the Persian Gulf. As Christian Manrique brings up, the situation has been driven towards this scenario due to Saudi’s accusations of support to extremist groups, that might destabilize the Middle East. Also, due to Qatar’s Iranian links. So, with this elements Saudi Arabia decided to apply embargo with different consequences. Had it been harder, beyond increasing the price for Qatar exports, as well as oil and gas, and investments, other conflicts could arise eventually. This clash is shaped by the sectarian and hegemonic confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
On the short term, to Christian Manrique, this isolation has limited consequences due to Turkish and Iranian help to Qatar with basic supplies and logistic distribution of its products through Iranian waters and Oman harbors.
This is not the first time that diplomatic relations are cut between the group Arabia leads and Qatar. Christian Manrique reminds that in 2014 these were interrupted for nine months and were taken back to normal after the signature of an agreement for more solid measures in counter terrorism.
Due to crossed interests among Persian Gulf countries with the first world economies, the best possible scenario is still a new diplomatic agreement to avoid major problems.
On June 5, 2017, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrein and United Arab Emirates (UAE) suspended their diplomatic relations with Qatar due to “supporting terrorism” allegations and its Iranian links. Yemen, Maldives and the Libyan Government followed them. Oman and Kuwait still maintain their relations. This last country, along with Russia, has become the most outstanding mediator of this dispute due to the lack of interest showed by the USA, with its bigger military base in the Middle East placed in Qatar. On the other hand, Iran and Turkey have become the main Qatar’s allies. This position has enabled them to send a clear solidarity message to the international community as well as a proof of their support.
Embargo effects go beyond the breaking up of diplomatic relations. Christian Manrique points out that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrein and the UAE has removed their ambassadors from Qatar. Stays and residence have been forbidden for Qatar citizens in these countries. These measures, which imply border closing by land, sea and air, are quite similar to an embargo.
On July five, Saudi Arabia and its supporters, in order to lift the embargo, demanded the fulfillment of 13 points, that were reduced to six on July 22:
- Restrain diplomatic relations with Iran and close its diplomatic missions.
- End links with “terrorist organizations” and deliver “terrorist figures”.
- Stop all funds for people or organizations designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Bahrein and the United States and other countries.
- Suppress Al-Jazeera broadcast as well closing of any other media financed by Qatar.
- Turkish military base closing down and stopping joint military cooperation within Qatar.
- Stop interfering in internal affairs of sovereign countries and paying of reparations and compensations.
Christian Manrique explains that Qatar has offered explanations when asked. Qatar has denied any support to terrorist groups linked to Al-Qaeda or Islamic State, although it recognizes assisting groups like the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatar has claimed its membership within the coalition against Islamic State, the United States is leading. Taking these elements on account, plus Qatar’s strategic relationship with Iran, it doesn’t seem quite probable that Qatar will attend the list of demands.
More destabilization might arise and the next Christian Manrique’s post will analyze it.