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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Qatar is making a grave mistake by seeking assistance from opportunistic strangers with their own ideological axes to grind.


Qatar is making a grave mistake by seeking assistance from opportunistic strangers with their own ideological axes to grind.(Gulfnews).


Non-Arab countries are pouring oil on troubled Arabian Gulf waters. Foreign interference will only widen the rift between three Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and Qatar, complicating chances of reconciliation. “We believe this issue can be dealt with among the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council,” said Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir.
Unfortunately, Qatar’s emir is making a grave mistake by seeking assistance from opportunistic strangers with their own ideological axes to grind.
This is indeed the greatest crisis faced by the GCC but it can be swiftly resolved provided Doha agrees to stop funding armed extremists, harbouring Muslim Brotherhood criminals, disseminating radical ideology via its media outlets — and, most importantly, ending its cosy, back-door dealings with Iran and its proxies.
Accusations against Qatar are supported by hard evidence; its denials do not ring true.
The fact that the Muslim Brotherhood supporter President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is rushing to Qatar’s defence speaks volumes. “There are those who are uncomfortable with us standing by our Qatari brothers… We will continue to give Qatar every kind of support,” Erdogan said adding that he has not “seen Qatar give support to terror.”
Offering sustenance on humanitarian grounds is one thing; dispatching up to 5,000 Turkish soldiers to protect the ruling family is a major provocation.
“Turkish troops are coming to Qatar for the sake of the security of the entire region,” announced Qatar’s Foreign Minister Shaikh Mohammad Bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani, who has denounced the demands issued by Saudi Arabia and its allies as interference in the foreign policy of a sovereign state.
Not so. Qatar’s domestic policies are not at issue, but it is incumbent upon all Gulf states to unify against common enemies. There can be no business as usual if one is covertly pulling in the opposite direction undermining its partners’ efforts.
Shaikh Mohammad alludes to regional envy as the cause of Qatar’s isolation. “We have been isolated because we are successful and progressive,” he maintained. That is laughable.
If that were true there are other GCC states worthier of a cold shoulder. He’s verbally laid out a welcome mat for Turkish troops. “We will never surrender,” he has pledged when all Doha is required to do is surrender its dubious beneficiaries.
As they say, birds of a feather stick together. Ankara’s policies in the region are as suspect as Qatar’s. Turkey was once a way station for European radicals heading to Syria and Iraq. Wounded Daesh fighters were treated in Turkish hospitals and freely crossed over from Syria to purchase supplies.
In October, 2014, Germany’s Deputy Speaker Claudia Roth said Turkey’s “dealings with Isis [Daesh] are unacceptable. Also that Isis [Daesh] has been able to sell its oil via Turkey is extraordinary.”
Al Akhbar divulged that “Isil [Daesh] regularly sells crude it obtains from Iraqi and Syrian oil wells to Turkey through some Qatari middlemen.” Russia released satellite images showing oil tankers crossing into Turkish territory.
The Turkish government should be careful that the international community’s accusatory pendulum does not swing in its direction. Its relations with the EU are fragile over human rights and free speech violations and tensions between Ankara and Washington are at their highest over America arming of Kurdish fighters in Syria.
The leaders of Qatar and Turkey should read the tea leaves.The days when their powerful western friends with benefits turned a blind eye to their disreputable dealings are receding now that terrorists are spilling blood throughout Europe. The fact that Turkey is a member of Nato and Qatar hosts US Central Command will not give them an eternal free pass.
Astonishingly, or perhaps not, Iran has shown its ‘benevolence’ by designating three of its southern ports for use by its apparent friend Qatar and flying in plane loads of supplies. Would it have been so generous had another Gulf state found itself in a similar predicament? Iran’s prime goal is to cause division throughout the Arab world.
Mixed messages from the Pentagon and the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson initially caused confusion. However, President Donald Trump reaffirmed his zero tolerance policy on terrorism, thereby clarifying the US stance in no uncertain terms.
He accused Qatar of historically funding “terrorism at a very high level”. Referring to talks with Arab heads of state in Riyadh, “We had a decision to make,” he said. “Do we take the easy road or do we take a hard but necessary action?” He confirmed that his Secretary of State and military generals had concurred with him that “the time has come for Qatar to end its funding” and “extremist ideology”.
Qatar’s ruler would be wise to think long term. Aligning with adversaries, pariah states and a fair-weather friend like Moscow may shut the door leading to a peaceful resolution for the foreseeable future. Hopefully he will silence his combative foreign minister who appears bent on escalation, do what is right and re-embrace the ties of blood shared by all GCC member states sooner rather than later.
Linda S. Heard is an award-winning British political columnist and guest television commentator with a focus on the Middle East

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