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Why did Qatar choose confrontation?

After the decision of the Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ) — comprising Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain — to boycott Qatar, the latter deployed all efforts to thwart the alliance’s plan and push it toward reconciliation. Doha got closer to Tehran, reestablished relations with Hezbollah, and financed Houthi militias in Yemen and other radical Islamist groups that are against the ATQ.
Qatar also supports the US Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which aims to criminalize Saudi Arabia for the 9/11 attacks. It is pushing for the Kingdom to be held accountable in front of the US Congress for its military activity in Yemen, despite the fact that Qatar was part of the Saudi-led alliance there. Doha is also providing support to anyone who is ready to attack the ATQ member states.
We condemn what Qatar is doing, but we are not surprised by its actions. It used to do the same thing behind the scenes; now it is openly targeting these countries. Doha’s aggression and confrontation are not its only options. Since the outbreak of the dispute with the ATQ, Qatar had three options.
The first was to accept the quartet’s conditions and recalibrate relations in accordance with guaranteed reconciliation. This would end the problem, and we would all live in stability, mutual respect and non-interference in each other’s affairs. The second option for Qatar was to boycott the four countries and manage its affairs without them.

Doha’s irresponsible attacks against the ATQ will eventually lead to Qatar’s bankruptcy and lack of respect, and its ongoing provocations could push its adversaries to do what might be even more dangerous for the emirate.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed


Doha chose the third and most difficult option: Waging war against the ATQ members via international organizations and governments, building new alliances, making military deals against the quartet, financing the enemies of its members and waging incitement campaigns against them whenever possible. Qatar has been doing this for the past 20 years. It believes it can impose its will on anyone. In doing so, it is taking a huge financial gamble.
Doha’s provocations against the ATQ members may force them to take action or support many ambitious people in Qatar. No one wants to impose change by force, unlike what Doha claims. Toppling regimes and orchestrating coups would ruin the reputation of the perpetrators.  
Moreover, had the ATQ members intended to organize a coup or invade Qatar, they would not have spoken explicitly about their resentment or boycotted Qatar, because this put its security services on maximum alert. The quartet could have remained quiet and planned to take over Doha within two hours.
We can see how Qatar’s royal family is terrified like never before, bearing in mind how Doha has over the past two decades plotted to topple and frighten regimes, including those of Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Qatar’s fear of retaliation made it seek help from other countries and spend enormous amounts of money. Nevertheless, it will eventually bow and agree to the ATQ’s demands, even if behind closed doors.
Doha’s irresponsible attacks against the ATQ will eventually lead to Qatar’s bankruptcy and lack of respect, and its ongoing provocations could push its adversaries to do what might be even more dangerous for the emirate.

• Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al Arabiya news channel, and former editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, where this article is also published.
Twitter: @aalrashed