The Israeli media discussed the Gulf reconciliation with Qatar. Many texts and articles contained clear mockery of the Bahraini regime, which returned from the Al-Ula summit in Riyadh with nothing. The Israeli media also discussed the Saudi regime failure to make of Qatar a Bahrain 2.
Israeli writer and political analyst Zvi Barel wrote an article showing the Bahraini anger and Saudi failure. He said: “The announcement of the conflict with Qatar and the imposition of sanctions in June 2017 was one of bin Salman’s first activities, who won Crown Prince’s title in the same month. This was a particularly fertile year for Bin Salman.
Five months later, he surprised the kingdom and the world when he arrested dozens of Saudi businessmen, including princes from the royal family, and forced them to pay the state treasury billions of dollars as part of the campaign he started against “corruption.”
Bin Salman was confident that he would succeed in a short time in pressuring the ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad. The ruler who took office four years earlier in an exceptional transfer of power, in which his father Sheikh Hamad willingly resigned from his position and transferred it to his fourth son.
Bin Salman tried to offer the boycott to Qatar as a joint operation for all Gulf states. Still, he succeeded in recruiting Bahrain and the UAE only to his side (Egypt is not from the Gulf countries), while Kuwait and Oman remained neutral.
Saudi Arabia issued 13 requirements for Qatar and demanded its full fulfilment as a prerequisite for lifting sanctions.
Saudi asked Qatar to cut, or at least reduce, its relationship with Iran and stop supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, hand over to Saudi Arabia the activists of these organizations and remove the Turkish military base in which they were established.
Qatar was asked to close shut down the Al-Jazeera, whose noisy disclosures revealed the depth of corruption in the Arab countries. It was also asked to pay compensation for the damages caused by Qatar’s policy and agree to tight control by the Gulf states on the implementation of the conditions and amend its line in line with the Gulf states’ foreign policy.
Saudi Arabia tried to turn Qatar into a satellite state, with a stature like Bahrain. But the sanctions, which included an embargo on trade with Qatar, the closure of the land and air borders, the expulsion of Qatari citizens, and the application of international pressure on Qatar, did not deter Qatar’s ruler.
It is safe to say that it achieved the opposite of what Saudi Arabia aspired.
Immediately after the sanctions were imposed on Qatar, Iran and Turkey came to the aid of Qatar.
Turkey built a huge air route that provided Qatar’s essential goods, and Iran became an air and sea transit country. At the same time, Washington, which has the most extensive base in the Middle East, praised Qatar and presented it as a country that contributes a lot to fighting terrorism.
Economically, Qatar succeeded relatively quickly in facing the great difficulties that emanated from the boycott, began to establish local factories for the production of consumer goods, and pumped about $40 billion to banks to cover the deposits gap were withdrawn from them by investors from the Gulf. It increased the National Investment Fund to $320. Instead of temporary distress and fear of economic strangulation, 2.7 per cent growth came in 2018.
Then Qatar, which maintains a world record in per capita income, pledged to invest about $15 billion in Turkey to help the economy in severe crisis, as a response to the help, it got from Turkey when the sanctions were imposed on it.
It is also expanding its investments around the world as if no siege was imposed on it.
Qatar has also gained Israel’s approval to assist Hamas in the Gaza Strip. It is a partner with Turkey in Libya between the recognized government and the separatist general, Khalifa Haftar. It continues to prepare for the World Cup games that will be held in 2022.
Trump or Biden?
One of the questions that stood before bin Salman and his father, the King: Will reconciliation be granted to Trump or wait for Biden to come? Here Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, played a decisive role when he persuaded bin Salman, his close friend, to speed up reconciliation to place a united bloc of the Gulf states in front of Biden and make it harder for the new administration to play between states.
Kushner has also reminded bin Salman of his religion to Trump, whom he has defended throughout the period since Khashoggi’s murder. It is not clear which of Kushner’s justifications had a decisive effect, but Trump could score another achievement for himself in the field of conflict resolution in the Middle East.
Egypt and the UAE were not pleased with this breakthrough. There is a long history between Egypt and Qatar against the backdrop of Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which Egypt considers a terrorist organization, and because of the continuous attacks by AlJazeera on President Sisi.
On the other hand, the tens of thousands of Egyptians working in Qatar despite the boycott by Egypt and Qatar’s interference in Gaza and Libya, makes the two countries’ relations particularly complicated. The UAE is not satisfied with Qatar’s ties with Turkey, which it considers a more serious threat than Iran.
The Qatar issue, in which a small and wealthy country succeeded in shaking a firm and cohesive Arab alliance clarifies that the “clustering theory” in the Middle East does not necessarily fit reality or provides sustainable strategy management tools.