Riyadh's street gang get their baseball bats ready

Baseball bats ready, the Saudi-UAE street gang prepares to jump Qatar as deadline looms
4 min read
03 Jul, 2017
The anti-Qatar gang appears to be taking its inspiration from Hollywood's bullies.
The Warriors must escape rival local gangs in Walter Hill's classic 1979 movie [Getty]
The Saudi-led anti-Qatar gang are not only acting like bullies, they are also channelling the behaviour of street thugs, like those best portrayed in the cult classic movie The Warriors.

Qatar has shown a firm but conciliatory restraint. On Monday, Qatar officially responded to the demands in a document handed to Kuwait's ruler.

Details of the response were not immediately available, but Qatar has earlier said the demands "were made to be rejected", though it is likely Qatar signalled its willingness to negotiate some of the less contentious issues.

But the blockading countries, which consist of the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt in addition to ring-leader Saudi Arabia, are already escalating the situation, despite the 48-hour extension being granted to their ten-day deadline.

The foreign ministers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain will meet in Cairo on Wednesday to discuss further sanctions against Qatar, according to Reuters.

"At the invitation of Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, there will be a quartet meeting of the foreign ministers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in Cairo on Wednesday July 5 to follow up on the developing situation regarding relations with Qatar," Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said in a statement.

It is not clear yet what any Saudi-led escalation will look like

Further sanctions

It is not clear yet what any Saudi-led escalation will look like, but fresh arrests, remarks, tweets, leaks and even political cartoons coming from those countries offer a frightening glimpse of what they may be hatching for Qatar.

Egypt's regime has now arrested the daughter and son-in-law of the Qatar-based cleric Youssef al-Qaradawi, a former "spiritual guide" of the Muslim Brotherhood.

They were nabbed from a Mediterranean coastal resort on Sunday over allegations of membership in a "terrorist organisation", a catch-all term used by the Sisi junta for their opponents.

Qaradawi was in 2015 sentenced to death in absentia. He is on a recent sanctions list by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain - and has previously been denied entry to the United States and the United Kingdom. Hundreds of Brotherhood members have been killed in Egypt and thousands arrested in a sweeping crackdown following a military coup against democratically elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.

The UAE's ambassador to Russia, Omar Ghobash, warned last week that further sanctions could be imposed on Qatar, in addition to the inhumane blockade already in place.

As well as expelling Qatar from the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, Riyadh and its allies could tell their economic partners to choose between business with them or with Doha, he told Britain's The Guardian newspapersuggesting the anti-Qatar camp could implement a BDS-like boycott of their Arab neighbour.

Of course, this may all be part of their psychological warfare against Doha. Egyptian MPs, many of whom seem to be thugs in suits, are suggesting Cairo could build a base on a Bahraini island near Qatar and send Egyptian troops there, but this sounds little more than a petty threat.

The most vulgar threats yet are those coming from Saudi media

Baseball bat diplomacy

On Monday, Dubai's kooky ex-police chief even tweeted that Qatar was "part of the UAE", suggesting Abu Dhabi intends to annex Qatar after the deadline.

Although they have so far spared no insult, "fake news", or outright blasphemy in the crisis with Qatar, they seemed to have hit a new low on Monday with a crude threat of violence against Qatar and its emir.

But perhaps the most vulgar threats yet are those coming from Saudi media. 

Okaz, a Saudi pro-government newspaper, listed possible new sanctions next to a baseball bat bashing a ball with the head of Qatar's emir painted on it. The list includes 'isolating Qatar from its Islamic and Arab surroundings', whatever that means.

The violent baseball bat motif was also used in a separate story related to further punishing Qatar.

It is hard to predict which way the crisis will go, given the lack of transparency and accountability in the countries leading the blockade, and the arbitrary and personal manner in which their leaders conduct their countries' most serious affairs.

However, judging from what their officials, so-called journalists and crude cartoonists are saying, one could expect more thuggery and bullying, inspired by Hollywood villains... and street gangs.

Said al-Arabi is a pseudonym. The author resides in a jurisdiction where the publication of their identity may create a security or freedom of movement issue.

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