The Qatar blockade: A sibling's quarrel - TAHA KILINÇ

The Qatar blockade: A sibling's quarrel

On Monday evening, our Qatar Airlines flight, which departed from Doha, the capital of Qatar, bound to the Omani capital of Muscat, first proceeded headed north and then entered Iranian airspace. Later, after flying for a while parallel to Iranian territories, it crossed over the Musandam Peninsula, an Omani territory at the southernmost tip of the Persian Gulf, and then headed south, reaching Muscat after a journey that lasted an hour and 20 minutes. While normally an airplane departing from Doha would arrive in Muscat after a 50-minute flight through the southeast, the reason behind Qatar Airways following this interesting and winding route is the ongoing political crisis in the Gulf:

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt — later Bahrain, who also followed suit — announced on 5 June 2017 that they had severed all ties with Qatar. Later the Maldives (under the direct influence of Saudi Arabia), Yemen (the southern government at the behest of the Saudis), Mauritania, Djibouti, Comoros, Niger, Gabon, Senegal (which later quit the blockade list), Chad (also later left the camp in 2018) and Jordan (jumped ship in 2019) all followed suit. All these countries, who launched a comprehensive blockade in terms of land, air and sea against Qatar, blamed what they called the Doha administration's “support for terrorism” as the reason for this move. Close ties with Iran, warm relations with "Political Islamic" movements such as (Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood Organization and others), also among the reasons was the deepening alliance with Turkey. They were also very uncomfortable with Al Jazeera TV channel broadcasts, some fatwas of cleric Youssef al-Qaradawi who resides in Qatar and the “active” political style of Doha. They even said, "If you want to reconcile, it will be on the condition that you will shut down Al-Jazeera."

At the start of the blockade, speculations suggested that Qatar could not be able to withstand this blockade for very long. But that didn’t come to pass: On the contrary, despite the great damage, the blockade in question turned into an opportunity for Qatar to “find alternatives”. Investments abroad have been increased, the purse strings have been loosened when it came to the flow of money to the real estate and construction sectors, especially lobbying activities in the U.S. and Europe have been accelerated, the investment network in the media has been expanded, and the "mass communication" field has been concentrated with the new communication channels established. In addition, the gears have been set in motion towards modernization within the country, significant advances have been achieved in the culture and entertainment sectors, and it has focused on different areas with the new museums and art centers established. In order to add a political atmosphere to the prestige that woulc come along with the 2022 World Cup, which was Qatar is preparing to host, the incentive work with European countries was accelerated.

Perhaps the most striking result of the blockade is the new and deep ties Qatar has forged with Iran. Qatar Airways' use of Iranian airspace is actually the “softest” ascpect of the issue. While economic, commercial and political relations are progressing, Qatar is the “weak” party in this equation. Despite the enormous material power it holds, especially due to natural gas reserves, it is possible to clearly outline Qatar’s policy, who cannot (a) adopt a firm line against Iran in the publications of Al Jazeera: The new policy taken by the channel when covering the events in Syria and Yemen is entirely in line of “not wanting to offend Iran.” In Algeria, where Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain administrations were highlighted in a variety of ways, a style dominated by Iran completely through the “Tehran lens” was prevalent. As the “civilian massacre in Yemen” becomes the main headline, meanwhile the human drama in Syria has turned is nothing more than a few words. While “refugees freezing the cold” are reported, the Iranian administration that is behind this event is let of the hook.

The hostile attitude of the Saudi Arabia-UAE-Egypt-Bahrain quartet at the opposite camp of Qatar towards their own brethern is leading to the swift success of the policies adopted by the U.S. and Israeli administrations to deepen the rift in the Middle East. While such conflict zones are being developed to strengthen economic, political and social unity in the Gulf, Iran continues to impose its sectarian agenda on the region in this cluttered environment.

Who would be pleased with this situation? Probably first and foremost, arms dealers. Then all those from the east and the west who take every measure to prevent the Islamic world from rising up.

It is quite dreadful to not be able to avoid repeating the same historical mistakes with so many clear warning signs staring us all in the face.


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