Love... the Qatari way

Love... the Qatari way

We no longer hear much about the dispute with Qatar, except from one side — what emanates from Qatari officials through interviews, statements and announcements. Qatar’s adversaries have turned to what they view as important issues, such as Iran and Yemen and their regional and international relations. This is something that angers Doha, which wants to make its dispute with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain an issue in order to retain the attention of international public opinion.

However, sovereignty gives every country in the world the right to choose its own friends and the countries to which it opens its markets. Banning Saudi Arabia’s Almarai dairy company from selling its products in Doha, stopping the trading in the shares of Qatari companies on the UAE stock market, and closing Bahraini airspace in the face of Qatar Airways are questions that concern those states. The US boycotted Cuba, which is very close to Florida (less than 100 miles away) for more than 50 years. So, what is the problem if these countries treat Qatar as the US did Cuba; though with different circumstances because Qatar, unlike poor Cuba, has easily enough income to feed the entire population of India?

In order to grab media attention, Qatar has been repeating the story that there was an intention to invade it, change its emir and install an alternative ruler. Qatari delegations used these accusations to "charm" the countries they visited to thank their leaderships for their "support."

Like attention-seeking children, officials in Doha cannot come to terms with being ignored or boycotted — yet they will have to get used to it.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Iranian officials went so far as to claim, in an official statement, that their country prevented an imminent invasion of Qatar. The Qataris went on to repeat the same story in Turkey, and the Turks declared that they were the ones who prevented the invasion. Even, in Washington, the Qatari defense minister said that, had it not been for the US, Saudi and Emirati troops would have invaded his country. Then the Americans, in turn, said they had heard about military preparations against Qatar. In the same vein, let us not forget that the first claim in this regard came from the emir of Kuwait, who declared from Washington in early September that: “We succeeded in stopping the military intervention.” Obviously, the Qataris have been repeating the same story, albeit with some modifications to suit all the governments they visit, in order to involve them in the crisis and give each the role of the alleged hero.

The fact of the matter is that there never was any attempt to invade Qatar or any intention to do so; not out of respect for the leadership of Doha, but because these governments know the dangers of invasion and regime change by force. Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait remains a case in point. Moreover, Qatar has the largest US military base in the region, so who would be so adventurous as to take such a risk? But this has always been the case with Qatar — it exaggerates every issue.

It is quite likely that Qatari officials themselves deliberately spread such rumors because they are terrified of possible outcomes to their hostile actions against neighbouring countries, and their 20-year efforts to support the external and internal threats against them. In fact, Saudi Arabia and the UAE do not need to discipline Doha by considering an invasion. It is enough for them to boycott it, ignore, and live without it. However, like attention-seeking children, officials in Doha cannot tolerate being ignored or boycotted, although they will have to get used to it.

Finally, we say to the leadership of Qatar, which is wasting its money trying to convince the great powers to intervene and encourage reconciliation: It is time you understood that there is no compulsion in love.

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.
Twitter: @aalrashed.
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