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The blockading countries' diplomatic adolescence and Qatar's diplomatic maturity Open in fullscreen

Maryam Al-Khater

The blockading countries' diplomatic adolescence and Qatar's diplomatic maturity

Rational and professional: Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani [AFP]

Date of publication: 12 July, 2017

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Opinion: Amid the Gulf crisis, we seem to be facing two models in international relations: A model of political adolescence and puerility versus a model of political wisdom and maturity

Amid the Gulf crisis, we seem to be facing two models in international relations: A model of political adolescence and puerility versus a model of political wisdom and maturity.

Indeed, there has been a stark gap between the clear recklessness shown by the blockading countries and the prudence and emphasis on diplomacy shown by the State of Qatar.

“By maintaining a calm dignity in the face of these attacks, Qatar is giving the Saudis and their allies a masterclass in international diplomacy. Whether it will do Emir Tamim and his government any good or not remains to be seen, but they deserve our admiration and support for standing up for freedom of thought; emphasising the ongoing importance of Palestine to the Muslim world; and defending the integrity of Qatar’s sovereignty,” wrote Yvonne Ridley in the Middle East Monitor on June 24.

The accusation against Qatar of supporting terrorism, she added, “is, of course, a cheap allegation to throw at anyone, because proof of “supporting terror” is rarely provided.”

I agree with Ridley, because such a casual accusation of supporting terror is only meant to blackmail Qatar to further a very different agenda.

Those who have believed Qatar would kowtow before the allegations and blackmail dubbed demands were sorely wrong. Indeed, Qatar has stood its ground and resisted those who have sought to rob it of its sovereignty, and those who sought to stifle the freedom of speech represented by the likes of Al-Jazeera.

Those who have believed Qatar would kowtow before the allegations and blackmail dubbed demands were sorely wrong

In the face of the blockade, Qatar appears to have become prouder of Al-Jazeera and more convinced of its worth of the diversity of opinions it channels, as the whole world, save for those living under the jackboot of tyrannical regimes, rallied in solidarity behind the media network.

Qatar, which has become a virtual island with the closure of its only land links to the outside world, has doubled its strength and has reaffirmed its sovereign commitment to notions the Arab quasi-states plus an Arab quasi-island have long surrendered before Israel, even as they are aware of the existence of a plot to fragment the region, from which Israel and its godmother alone stand to benefit.

There is no need to explain at length the absence of diplomatic aptitude and any sound arguments behind the unjust violation the blockading countries have perpetrated since June 5, nor in the manner they have dealt with the deadline set for their ultimatum on July 4, or the meeting they had pre-arranged in Cairo on July 6, even before Kuwait helped them save face by extending the deadline.

Recall that the Qatari foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, had already declared, before the Cairo meeting was announced, that his country was going to respond to the demands through the Emir of Kuwait on time, thus invalidating any need for the ultimatum to be extended.

The blockading countries have nothing to show for, except political and diplomatic bankruptcy

All these moves made it clear to us that these countries had nothing to show for, except political and diplomatic bankruptcy.

What did the non-event in Cairo lead to? It was plain for all to see that the foreign ministers of the blockading countries came out with nothing logical. The Emirati foreign minister even ended up justifying the siege of Qatar by saying Doha does not want there to be “smiles” on people’s faces.

The diplomatic (in)aptitude of the blockading countries seems to have progressed little beyond primary school level, or the level of “throwing stones while having a glass house”, as the foreign minister of Bahrain said.

The Bahraini foreign minister, goaded by pro-regime Egyptian media, sought to antagonise people in his own tiny, non-homogenous island by labelling the Muslim Brotherhood a terror group, threatening Qatar although it does not have any Islamist parties, unlike Bahrain.

The minister forgot that by doing so, he was calling for criminalising entities that are part of his own government, entities whose legitimacy Bahrain uses to achieve balance in the local fabric to confront sectarianism.

As for the man who once was reliably articulate -- once the spokesman for the Saudi embassy in Washington, before being promoted to ambassador and then foreign minister -- his eloquence and logic after the blockade of Qatar seem to have greatly failed him, in proportion to his lack of conviction of what he has been made to say.

Saudi Arabia simply cannot tolerate criticism and it has a track record of attacking unfavourable media exposure

To express his country’s position vis-a-vis Qatar, the Saudi foreign minister, after long hesitation and feebleness, could only come up with: Enough is enough! The trivial expression was even taken up by the Saudi Foreign Ministry, which now used it in official statements, in a laughable diplomatic precedent until Adel al-Jubeir came up with his next bombshell, declaring: “There is support for terrorism in the guise of the freedom of expression”.

To those of us with long memories, wrote Ridley, “this will come as no surprise, because Saudi Arabia simply cannot tolerate criticism and it has a track record of attacking unfavourable media exposure.”

This political juvenility is rather rare and unprecedented in the diplomatic world, including in the Gulf. But it has been the dominant trait of the conduct of the blockading countries since the hacking of the Qatar News Agency and the ensuing severing of ties, the 13 allegations and the continued lying and fabrication.

While the circus was taking place in Egypt, Qatar’s foreign minister was speaking at Chatham House in London, embodying alone the preemptive, professional, and proactive diplomacy of his country.

He said that dialogue and reason will resolve problems – not shutting down free discussion. He explained that Qatar did not panic because of the Arab Spring, and has never felt threatened by it like its neighbours did. In short, he added, the roots of the current crisis are not linked to terrorism, but to an attempt to stifle dissenting voices, which is the essence of “intellectual terrorism”.

Maryam Al-Khater is a Qatari writer and media personality. Follow her on Twitter: @medad_alqalam

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab

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