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Saturday, 24 June 2017

What's the matter with Qatar? NOTHING!

Dear Friends; "Let's get things back into perspective!"

All of Qatar's neighbours, led by Saudi Arabia, have jumped on Qatar for a perceived variety of misdeeds and misnomers, to the point that they have broken off diplomatic relations with the kingdom and virtually isolated it from the rest of the Middle-East.

And for what, you might ask? (Go ahead, ask!)

Because Qatar, and especially Al Jazeera, has become too critical of some of the Arab States economic and social policies, which they consider too repressive, and as a result they want to punish Qatar until is gets back into line with their philosophical ideals.

Despite the headaches it caused, Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel (AJA) was a useful instrument of soft power for a tiny state that once tried to stand apart from both its neighbors and the region’s internecine feuds. Doha used to be a sort of Geneva-on-the-Gulf, the place where everyone went to hash out their differences. It wasn't uncommon to see camouflage-clad Sudanese rebels taking high tea in the lobby of the Four Seasons. Hamas and Fatah, the rival Palestinian factions, signed a reconciliation deal in Qatar. Lebanese leaders did the same in 2008, ending an 18-month standoff in Beirut.
 The list of 13 demands presented to Qatar this week is revealing. The first item, which asks Qatar to cut ties with Iran, is a red herring: While they maintain cordial relations—a necessity, because the two countries share a massive natural gas field—they are hardly close. Doha also trades far less with Tehran than Dubai does, a fact that has gone strangely unmentioned on Al Arabiya in recent weeks.

Anwar Gargash, the Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs, said the list was the result of “serious mediation” led by Kuwait. The Qataris see it as a set of unreasonable, maximalist demands, asking them to abandon their foreign policy and align themselves completely with their neighbors and rivals. They are unlikely to accede. It is all a sad denouement to the Arab Spring: six years after a wave of pro-democracy revolutions, the latest crisis roiling the region is a spat over, among other things, which Arab autocracy will control the airwaves.
(With notes from "The Atlantic!")