The Qatar Blockade 300 Days On

The small nation of Qatar was cut off from four regional countries over nine months ago, with these nations concurrently imposing a blockade from the land to the sea. Sat among a region that is somewhat already unstable, will Qatar ever find its peace in the Persian Gulf? With little progress for peace in motion, perhaps a push is needed.

This blockade changed the face of Qatar. From families to the economy, the blockade rocked the nation. In June of 2017, the states of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain accused Qatar of funding terrorism whilst simultaneously provoking instability within the region and, thus, they imposed this blockade. Initially, most people saw it as purely a political problem that would be over quickly. Diplomatic, trade and travel were cut from the four states to Qatar, with it being revealed that all Emirati, Bahraini and Saudi citizens should leave Qatar. Moreover, Qatari citizens had within 14 days to leave these states with no question to their circumstances.

This crisis, however, was much more than what it appeared. Qatar has been diplomatically, politically, culturally and economically under siege. Families have been separated with the travel restraints, many animals have died due to border restrictions, and companies have collapsed.

Qatar has denied all allegations of funding terrorism and disrupting any instability. Additionally, Qatar did not comply with the 13 demands, including the closing of Iranian Diplomatic missions in Qatar, and simultaneously striking the U.S. complying trade sanctions on them. Essentially, these demands did threaten the sovereign nature of Qatar, whilst also questioning international law.

The blockade has forced Qatar to reinvent themselves with land, sea and air restrictions. Qatar Airways had to create new routes due to airspace restrictions that were opposed to them. These routes became much longer than anticipated, which has raised environmental concerns. Despite the blockade, Qatar has maintained a high standard of living, ranking 33rd on the Human Development Index (HDI). Furthermore, they have the highest income index in the world and it is even the UN appointed maximum for calculating Income Indexes for HDI’s. However, this is a very small country that relies heavily on oil and gas diplomacy, and with nations and their allies critically opposing Qatar, they are at risk of becoming more isolated.

Countries, such as Kuwait, have offered to mediate, however, Qatar remains at a hostile stand-still. Iran and Turkey have supplied food aid and diplomatic support towards Qatar and have additionally called for peaceful approaches and negotiations to this crisis. In February, the Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee announced that the E.U. countries and additional countries should call on The International Human Right institutes to promote an end to this blockade.

A report from the United Nations Commission on Human Rights that presented results of how hard hit Qatar has been by this Gulf crisis was deeply condemned by the four opposing Arab nations expressing that it is a protection of national security.

The problem is nevertheless persisting, despite mediation offers from Kuwait, and calls from world leaders in Turkey, Russia and France to address the cruciality of this crisis.  There was an effort from the U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, to demobilize the situation. However, after his sacking, Qatar will need to convince the U.S. of the priority of peace within the Persian Gulf.

There remains the opportunity for resolutions and a stronger push to resolve this could be a start. Nations playing the game of taking sides could harm the future direction towards peace and escalate the situation by involving more actors. Dialogue should replace demands and principles, it is essential that this is explored. If this crisis extends further, it must be emphasized that peace is essential to the Gulf and compromises perhaps may need to be made.

Criticism of each other’s leaders, such as comments surrounding royal families involved, will only escalate the situation further and this type of action should be refrained in order for peace to be on the horizon.

Furthermore, if this dispute drags on further, Qatar will face even more economic consequences. Qatar was downgraded to an AA- credit rating. In order to build a stronger region, unity should be encouraged throughout the Gulf.

This crisis has been on stage to a public audience for 300 days now. It is time a resolution is found before hostility becomes even more deeply rooted. The Trump administration does not view the crisis as a priority. Qatar should encourage the U.S. to invest more time into reaching peace in the Gulf. Iran and the U.S. military in Afghanistan are two aspects of great priority for the Trump Administration, which gives Qatar an advantage due to its diplomatic relations with Iran. Qatar has the potential to assist the U.S. during the negotiations over the Iranian Nuclear Deal. Qatar has also played a support role in U.S.-Taliban peace discussions, continuing this support will encourage the U.S. to turn a serious head towards resolving the Gulf crisis.

Peace progress in the Persian Gulf is possible, these countries are powerful and the people of Qatar should not have to live in an atmosphere of conflict with its neighbours. The blockade has essentially affected, one way or another, every resident of Qatar.

Qatar before the blockade is not the same as Qatar after the blockade. Although a quick solution has not happened, it does not mean that a solution cannot be reached soon.