Qatar Crisis and Sri Lanka’s role
Posted on June 7th, 2017


In a sudden diplomatic crisis, on Sunday 4th Jun, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain have broke off diplomatic relations and closed all land sea and air contacts with fellow Gulf Arab state Qatar.

Saudi Arabia said the move was necessary to protect the kingdom from terrorism and extremism. The kingdom also pulled all Qatari troops from the coalition fighting the ongoing war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia also urged all brotherly countries and companies to cut off relations with Qatar. Yemen, Mauritania, Libya and our neighbour Maldives have heeded this call and cut off relations with Qatar.

The decision comes after Qatar alleged in late May that hackers took over the site of its state-run news agency and published what it called fake comments from its ruling emir about Iran and Israel. Its Gulf Arab neighbours responded with anger, blocking Qatari-based media, including the Doha-based satellite news network Al-Jazeera.

It isn’t clear whether the decision against Qatar would affect American military operations as Qatar is home to the sprawling al-Udeid Air Base, which is home to the US military’s Central Command and some 10,000 American troops. The air base is crucial for operations against Islamic State group jihadists,

Qatar is also set to host the 2022 football World Cup and several high standard football stadiums are under construction in the country..

Qatar has face. The latest move comes only about a month after U.S.President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabiaa in which he called upon Arab countries to rise against Islmist Terrorism”.

Previously Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia fell out with Qatar over its backing of then-Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, a Brotherhood member, and Saudi Arabia financed the Egyptian military sponsoring the removal of President Morsi. In March 2014, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatar over this rift.

Meanwhile, Qatar repeatedly and strongly denied it funds extremist groups. However, it remains a key financial patron of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and has been the home of exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mishaal since 2012.

Western officials also have accused Qatar of allowing or even encouraging funding of Sunni extremists like al-Qaida’s branch in Syria,  known as the Nusra Front.

Bahrain has asked all Qatari citizens ib that country to leave Bahrain within two weeks and has said that air and sea traffic between the two countries would be halted. Bahrain blamed Qatar’s media incitement, support for armed terrorist activities and funding groups linked to Iranian groups to carry out sabotage and spreading chaos in Bahrain” for its decision.

It is not clear how this situation would affect Qatar Airways, one of the region’s major long-haul carriers. Some 37 million passengers cross through Doha each year. But Qatar Airways now has to fly through Iranian, Iraqi and Turkish airspace to reach Europe. Aviation officials have said that if the situation persists the UAE owned Emirates Airways will likely order a huge bunch of new planes.

The UAE has given Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave the country while Egypt has announced the closure of its airspace and seaports for all Qatari transportation to protect its national security. Egypt also accused Qatar of supporting terrorist organisations including the Muslim Brotherhood..

Half of the food in Qatar comes via Saudi Arabia through Qatar’s only land border. The border closure has prevented 600-800 trucks per day entering Qatar from Saudi Arabia. The 19 flights per day between Doha and Dubai have also been called off.

The American political analyst Moon of Alabama reported on 5th June 2107 that the GCC States Led by Saudi Arabia will collapse into oblivion and said that all GCC states are financing various terrorist groups. He said that Qatar is financing various al-Qaeda aligned groups in Libya, Syria and Afghanistan. The Taliban have their only diplomatic mission in Doha. Until recently the Saudis have been financing ISIS. They are now mainly back at financing various other Jihadi groups in Syria under CIA control. The UAE is sponsoring the Libyan general Hiftar who is fighting Qatari supported al-Qaeda aligned groups. The Saudis are making nice with Israel and have no interest in the Palestinian cause which Qatar supports.

Reuters’ Middle East Analyst Ted Regencia reports that deep in the Gulf waters between Qatar and Iran lie the world’s largest gas field, a 9,700-sq-km expanse that holds at least 43 trillion cubic metres of gas reserves. Qatar’s southern portion is known as North Field, while Iran’s slice to the north is called South Pars. As per him the two countries share exploration rights in the area, and it is one of many ties that bind them.

He says that Doha’s relationship with Tehran was put to a new test on Monday, after Iran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia led four other countries in cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing its fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member of undermining security in the region by siding with Iran, among other action

Hwe adds that there are diverting interests in hydrocarbons. Qatar is the world’s biggest exporter of natural gas – a serious competition to Saudi oil exports and it has  recently intensified its relations with other producers and customers in the Gulf region and beyond.

Ted Regencia also states that more local and personal dimensions of the spat include many intermarriages and competitions between Saudi and Qatari tribes and families. He says that there are rumors that significant tribal groups in the Saudi’s Najd desert, especially the al-Tamim, have recently renewed their ties to Qatar under its current emir Prince Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani. This was an “in your face” for the al-Sauds.

Oman and Kuwait have taken no position in the fight and try to mediate. Turkey is allied with Qatar but has stayed suspiciously quiet. There is a new defence agreement between Qatar and Turkey promising Turkish support if Qatar is attacked. The Turkish military has a base in Qatar with some 600 soldiers. A huge share of foreign investment in Turkey has come from Qatar. The Turkish and Qatari government coordinate tightly in their common support for al-Qaeda and other groups in the war on Syria.

The Reuter reporter also states that Trump fell into a Saudi-Israeli trap ad the Pentagon hawks have dreamed of an “Arab NATO” to fight Iran. The envisioned “Arab NATO” may soon have its first war but it will be against one of its members. .

Reports from Washington also states that an intense Saudi and UAE lobbying campaign against Qatar had been ongoing for months and a Saudi lobbyist threatened the Qatari ruler with the “same fate as Egypt’s Morsi”. It also said that the Zionist lobby organization “Foundation for the Defense of Democracy” is advising the dictatorship of the UAE on how to fight the dictatorship of Qatar.

Washington reports also stated that Qatar had tried to calm the situation down. It announced that six of its soldiers had been wounded while fighting for the Saudis near Yemen, expelled a few Hamas leaders from the country and amediator was sent to Kuwait – so far to no avail.

Reports from Washington qlso indicate for Iran this is a chance to further blow up the GCC by intensifying its relations with Qatar, it could increase its food exports to the country and host Qatar airline flights in exchange for a Qatari retreat from Syria and then the U.S./Saudi plan of confronting Iran through the GCC would then be in complete jeopardy.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has told  Al Jazeera News Agency that they regret and were surprised over the escalations against Qatar and has said that if there were real reasons for this crises it could have been discussed at the GCC meeting that took place a few weeks ago, and also nothing was said during the American-Islamic-Arab summit in Riyadh and they had no indication that the crisis was about to erupt.

In 1996, there was an attempt to place Khalifa b. Hamad Al Thani back on the Qatari throne allegedly with some level of Saudi and Emirati support. It could be that Riyadh is attempting once more to engineer a political change in Doha

When the diplomatic rupture with Qatar occurred in 1996 it took eight months to repair relations. But this rupture seems more serious than that since more countries are involved, and the countries in question have also cut off all physical contact with Qatar in addition to diplomatic contact. In the near term, it may be difficult for the Qataris to move around, to export their natural gas, and even to obtain food since much of Qatar’s imported food comes overland via the Saudi border.

In the longer term, it will be difficult for the Saudis and others to completely isolate Qatar internationally. The Qataris have good relations with several international and regional powers, including the U.S., but also Russia, the European Union, and Turkey.  And if things really get rough, Doha has a diplomatic nuclear option,” which is to place itself under Iranian protection. Tehran has already called for a peaceful resolution to the dispute and has offered to send food to Qatar if needed.

The ultimate Saudi goal is as yet unknown. Riyadh may want Qatar to sever its relations with Iran altogether and/or take tangible steps to divest itself of any ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. It may want Qatar to shut down Al Jazeera. Or it may want something more drastic.

As per our Ambassador in Qatar there are about 140,000 Sri Lankans employed in Qatar.  There are similar numbers in Saudi Arabia and U.A.E with potential to increase these numbers.  The remittance being sent by them has become the main foreign exchange for this cash strapped government in the lack of much boasted foreign investment from the so-called friendly western nations not forthcoming.  Therefore the government should exercise all restraints not to get involved in this crisis which may be instigated useless western embassies, and maintain Sri Lanka’s much admired Non Aligned policy. (end)

One Response to “Qatar Crisis and Sri Lanka’s role”

  1. Nimal Says:

    I think the Muslim world is fragmented by the influences of Saudi, Qatari and Iran. But there are much more of a reason that is sinister.Musn’t lose sleep over these violators human rights.

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