Monday October 09, 2017
The Saudi-led attack on tiny Qatar has moved beyond the stage of comedy even if clowns keep popping up periodically in the theatre of the absurd.
To be sure, the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar that has been joined by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain—dubbed “the gang of four” by Lord Nazir Ahmed of Britain—has caused immense suffering to Qatari citizens.
Families have been split and Qatari children receiving treatment in Saudi hospitals have been thrown out. Why punish innocent children for what is essentially a political crisis but logic is not something the Bani Saud policy is based on.
What has raised eyebrows is the latest tweet from a top Emirati security official suggesting that the Qatar diplomatic crisis triggered on June 5 could end if Doha were to give up hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Dubai security chief General Dhahi Khalfan in his tweet on Sunday night (October 8) made the comment on the crisis as officials from the “gang of four” countries—all dictatorships—have targeted the 2022 Soccer Tournament that they view as giving Qatar a leg up on them.
“If the World Cup goes out of Qatar, the crisis in Qatar will end because the crisis was made to break it,” Khalfan wrote in his tweet.
He added: “The cost to return is more than what the al-Hamdeen have planned for,” a reference to two of Qatar’s former officials, the emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and former Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani.
Was Khalfan authorized to issue the tweet? Given his position in the Emirati security hierarchy even if he is from Dubai, points to a nod from the top. The “gang of four” and their poorer underlings—the Maldives, the part of Yemen under the fugitive former president Abd Rabbou Mansour Hadi and a few other basket cases—have demonstrably failed to force tiny Qatar to its knees.
Thanks to timely support from Turkey and Iran, Qatar has been able to withstand the Saudi-led pressure.
While the Saudi-led drive against Qatar was launched because of Doha’s independent foreign policy especially its relations with Iran, the FIFA world cup was also part of the reason for Bani Saud hostility. Jealousy was eating away the Saudi crown prince Muhammad bin Salman who is trying to assert himself as the ruler not only of Saudi Arabia but the entire Arab world!
Initially, the boycott affected import of supplies and material for building infrastructure for the World Cup but the organizers quickly found alternative routes.
The Associated Press quoted Hassan al-Thawadi, Qatar’s World Cup supreme committee secretary-general, on October 6 that “There might have been some minimal increase in terms of establishing alternative supply chains but these have been absorbed very, very quickly and been normalized as these supply chains have been put in place.”
Hiccups in preparations for the World Cup may be small potatoes compared to the suffering inflicted on innocent Qatari citizens. Both Saudi Arabia and Qatar are tribal based societies.
The same tribes reside on both sides of the border. Inter-marriages are common and thus citizens of one country may reside in the other.
Following the Saudi-imposed boycott, these families have been split. In one case, an Emirati woman married to a Qatari citizen and had three children was forced to leave Qatar because the UAE demanded all its citizens do so.
The greatest victims of Saudi policy have been children. Lord Nazir Ahmed, who visited Doha earlier this month as part of the British Parliament Human Rights Committee delegation, told Crescent International that the Saudi policy amounted to gross human rights abuses and may constitute war crimes.
Lord Ahmed said he would raise these issues in the British Parliament and call on the British government to take serious note in view of Britain being one of the major arms suppliers to Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi-led aggression against Qatar may be turning costly for the Bani Saud.