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On June 5th, a conglomerate of Gulf countries took unprecedented action against the State of Qatar, and ceased all diplomatic relations with the gas-rich country. This lead to the immediate removal of Qatari diplomats from a number of nations, including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain, as well as the complete shutdown of land and air borders between all the accusing states and Qatar. Citizens of Qatar were given fourteen days to leave, leading the government to respond in kind and block all relations with their indicters as well.
Which countries are involved?
Saudi leads a conglomerate of countries including, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen in ending all diplomatic relations with Qatar, going so far as to ban their own citizens from even visiting the country. The original list of five has expanded further in recent days. See the map from Al-Jazeera below for a full list of countries and their status.
What has Qatar been accused of?
The accusations levelled against Qatar is that the state directly or indirectly funds terrorist activities in the Middle East. Qatar has long taken an individualistic approach to its foreign policy, enjoying cordial relations with Iran and supporting Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and its Hamas offshoot in the Gaza Strip, much to the chagrin of the rest of the GCC who expect the country to fall in line with their views. Its media network Al Jazeera has embarrassed or angered most Middle Eastern governments, while taking a silent approach to the various transgressions of its own. Saudi Arabia may also have been emboldened by US President Donald Trump’s recent visit to the country, who in his speech demanded the nation stamp out the radical ideology that plagues much of the Islamic world. In a tweet sent after the event, the president wrote “During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar – look!”.
During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar – look!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2017
The culmination of these factors has lead the bloc to point the finger of blame at Qatar for its dissidence, accusing it of deliberately antagonising the other countries, as well as indirectly funding terrorism through various ransom deals.
What happens now?
While the crisis continues, Qatar is having to source food supplies from Iran and Turkey, since it relies heavily on the land borders between Saudi and the UAE to transport food from other countries. Many freight and delivery services have Middle Eastern arms anchored in one of these two countries, which makes it difficult for any packages to reach Qatar without rerouting. The price of gas and oil may also increase, as Middle Eastern economies take a hit from frozen trade routes.
The human price of the blockade also continues to affect all involved. Many Saudis and Emiratis have family in or have emigrated to neighbouring countries, and with the blockades in place are unable to travel freely to see their loved ones. One family were seeking special sanctions to be able to attend the funeral of their grandfather, while another man was torn between staying in Qatar with his wife or going to the UAE and spending time with his sickly father.
Will this be resolved anytime soon?
Difficult to say. Qatar and the Saudi-lead bloc are in constant talks in an effort to resolve the crisis, with Kuwait and Turkey acting as mediators, though until now both sides have refused to budge. For their part, Qatar accuses the Saudi and UAE governments of committing the same crimes they have been accused of – “Emiratis, not Qataris, were among the hijackers who flew planes into the Twin Towers,’’ Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatar’s Ambassador to the US, wrote in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal on Sunday, responding to a similar article penned by his UAE counterpart last week. “The U.A.E. was singled out in the 9/11 Commission’s report for its role in laundering money to terrorists.” Two of the 19 hijackers who flew planes into the World Trade Center in 2001 came from the UAE, while 15 others were from Saudi. The remaining two were Lebanese and Egyptian.
There may be some hope however. Both Qatari and Saudi officials have appeared to take a more conciliatory tone in recent days. Speaking in London, on Friday, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir called on Qatar to respond to what he claimed were international and regional calls for it to halt its support for “extremism and terrorism”.
“I would not call them demands. I would say it is a list of grievances that need to be addressed and that the Qataris need to fix” he said. Jubeir said there was no intention of harming the Qatari people and called Qatar an “ally” in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It is expected that the Al-Jazeera news network will be jettisoned as the first gesture of good will by Qatar.
Will this affect my service from Vital Consular?
We’ve taken steps to ensure that there aren’t any unnecessary delays due to the blockade, by using different couriers when transporting documents for Qatar. If you’re currently preparing for a move to Qatar, or are already there and having your documents shipped to you, feel free to get in touch with us either via phone (+44 0330 088 1142) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). We have a dedicated team of people working hard to make sure the situation doesn’t affect the legalisation of your documents in any way.