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Daily News Analysis

Arab potentates at each other’s throats

Crescent International

Rulers of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE are not amused. They think Qatar is trying to be extra smart by backing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and even supporting MB activities inside their countries. They have withdrawn their ambassadors from Doha. How long with this last? Not very long, if their past behavior is any guide.

Dubai, Crescent-online
Wednesday March 05, 2014, 09:53 EST

Like dinosaurs of yesteryears, fighting is the staple of the Arabian potentates. And like the dinosaurs, they are destined for extinction because nature does not spare those that refuse to adapt to the environment.

While fighting among themselves behind closed doors and even using foul language, it has now exploded into the open. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain announced today they were withdrawing their ambassadors from Qatar.

The reason? Qatar has not implemented an agreement among Persian Gulf Arab countries not to interfere in each other’s internal affairs. The unprecedented statement was made in a joint statement by the three countries—Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain—after GCC foreign ministers met in Riyadh on March 04.

The statement said Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) foreign ministers tried to persuade Qatar to amend its policies but to no avail. The GCC comprises Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman and is an alliance of Western puppets. It was formed in 1981 as a front against Islamic Iran.

Oman and Qatar have tried to strike out a different path, much to the chagrin of Saudi Arabia, the main driver behind the GCC.

The latest spat has come following two developments. A Qatari doctor in the UAE was imprisoned for supporting members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB).

The organization has been proscribed in most of these countries, again spearheaded by Saudi Arabia that has backed and financed the military coup in Egypt that overthrew the first-ever elected government in Egypt’s history on July 3, 2013.

Qatar is viewed as backing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, much to the chagrin of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. They fear the spread of MB ideology that opposes hereditary monarchy as threatening their rule.

Qatar also hosts Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, seen as a spiritual leader of the MB. Doha’s hosting of al-Qaradawi has more to do with taming him than actually supporting him but it fits into Qatar’s plan to punch above its weight in Arab as well as international politics.

At the conclusion of their meeting on November 23, GCC members had signed an agreement confirming not to back “anyone threatening the security and stability of the GCC whether as groups or individuals - via direct security work or through political influence, and not to support hostile media.”

The reference to “hostile media” was aimed at Qatar’s Al Jazeera network that Saudi, Bahraini and UAE officials find difficult to stomach because its coverage is seen as hostile to the monarchies. Al Jazeera of course rejects such allegations but it has continued to provide coverage to unrest in Egypt that the Saudis are angry about.

After the March 4 meeting in Riyadh, the joint statement by Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain said: “… unfortunately, these efforts did not result in Qatar’s agreement to abide by these measures, which prompted the three countries to start what they saw as necessary, to protect their security and stability, by withdrawing their ambassadors from Qatar starting from today, March 5 2014.”

Qatar's foreign ministry said it would respond later.

Of course, such announcements should not be taken too seriously. Arabian rulers are like children playing in the sand. They get into a fight, stomp on each other’s castles and then make up.

The potentates will also make up shortly and then it will be back to business as usual, rubbing noses and kissing on both cheeks.


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