The Gulf crisis, which began with the siege and the boycott of Qatar by several Gulf and Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, did not lead to any useful results for the countries that led the blockade. Instead it had the opposite effect the countries without exception. The obvious lesson is: Every conflict explodes and every war that begins cannot be stopped and reined it because the local, regional, and international environment is conducive to conflicts.
No wonder the Gulf crisis is still on going and will not be resolved in the foreseeable future. The Gulf crisis is a clear product of hasty decisions, including the use of the worst means available in senseless political and economic battles. In such circumstances ethics and values fall, and their fall will come back and haunt us all over a region that lost its path, history, and identity. The cost of the crisis is high, and it is enough that it makes the entire Arab and Gulf region less attractive for investments, which is contrary to the visions of capitals exporting global investment.
One of the consequences of the Gulf crisis is the increased dependence of Gulf states on the United States, particularly the Trump administration, which is a situation of depletion and weakening for the Gulf. The Trump administration has used Qatar’s blockade to best exploit money, arrange contracts and manipulate concerns. The price of the alliance with Trump is high, especially since his agenda is based on the principle of financial exhaustion of the countries of the region.
However, the Gulf crisis, which affected the GCC countries and weakened them, has benefited several countries outside the Arab circle. The crisis has benefited Turkey, which has played a major role in the Gulf arena. It also benefitted Iran, which has discovered that the Gulf front and the GCC are not unified in the face of Iran’s regional policies, The Gulf crisis has given political gifts to Russia and China, as both countries obtained gains because of the declining confidence of some Gulf states in the United States. At the same time, Israel benefited from the Gulf crisis, as it found a broken Arab and Gulf world seeking support to confront Iran and spy on adversaries, as evidenced by The New York Times leaks, reported a few days ago.
The justifications for the blockade are unclear and will not be clear because of the weakness of the logic behind them. The blockade did not lead to a change in the identity of Al-Jazeera and its political line, but instead prompted Al-Jazeera to address issues it hadn’t in the past regarding Gulf affairs. The blockade on Qatar did not lead to the stability of Egypt, and instead it seems that Egypt has become more turbulent due to the president’s actions and the imprisonment of his closest allies and supporters. Qatar’s siege did not stop the Yemen war or any regional tensions.
The crisis in the Gulf was not an inevitable crisis. It was not the last resort, but rather a response by decision-makers in both Saudi Arabia and the UAE to some regional issues in light of the rise of Trump. This crisis represented the assessment of a position as well as the evaluation of the Yemen war and the assumption that Iranian missiles have reached Yemen. It seems that analysts believe the Iranian weapons are currently in Iraq, so does this mean that another war will be waged in Iraq?
In the law of relations amongst the Arab states, there is rarely civilised behaviour in the face of differences. Despite Qatar living with the new situation and has been able to manage its needs, the continuation of the crisis at this level, which affects the Qatari and Gulf citizens, their rights, and their movements, can only deepen the negativity hanging over our region. If we were to imagine a family, it is natural for them to have conflicts and differences, and it is normal for axes to form on various levels. However, the basis that determines the nature of their relationship is associated with the way they deal with differences and the degrees that govern such differences. Are their relationships subject to the considerations of logic, winning, and losing in way that conflict is acknowledged and rationalised or does the spirit of intolerance and aggression push the conflict off its natural course?
The official Arab situation in most cases does not give value to the public opinion in the least, neither in their country or the other states and do not refer back to the public opinion regarding the conflicts and disputes between the leaders. In the minds of the Arabs, everything goes in disputes, as the less an Arab country is open to conflict with its citizens, the less it can be tolerant towards its neighbours. This is because it operates on the basis that it knows the entire truth. In this situation, the state’s anger becomes similar to the passion of individuals fighting in the streets, as the political position becomes a personal issue charged with emotion. In the case of the Arabs, the big can eat the small, the stronger party can oppress the powerless, and those controlling the armies and security forces can destroy economies.
In the moment of anger we Arabs burn books, destroy civilisations, and become consumed by the spirit of revenge and grudges. We become more like the emperor Nero, who burned Rome, and like Hulagu, who burned Baghdad and its books. Saddam Hussein was not an exception in our history, as we currently and historically have continuous examples of this type of violence and aggression that is linked to control and systematic terrorism. Perhaps this is the reason why the Arab world has not yet been successful in accumulating accomplishments.
If power and forcer were the basis for success, Hitler would’ve succeeded in taking control of the world, Japan would’ve controlled Asia in WWII, the US would’ve stayed in Vietnam, France would have succeeded in annexing Algeria, and the white people who have succeeded in maintaining their Apartheid regime in South Africa. Even Israel would have succeeded in abolishing Palestine (despite the difference of power and the nature of its Zionist settlement). Power is an essential element in shaping the relations between countries and societies, but at the same time, power is relative and is influenced by the factors of demography, justice, rights, people public opinion, the economy, and visible and invisible regional and international balances. This is why violent or forceful power is harmful to others, but is incapable of sustaining stability, winning wars and imposing wills.
The Arabs, as well as the Gulf, need to resolve the Gulf crisis, but this will not be possible given the bullying and imposition. It requires a change in mentality and approach so that countries and societies accept criticism and dialogue between the different schools of thought both at home and abroad. Is it possible for our region to achieve progress without making space for freedom within and beyond the countries?
This article first appeared in Al-Quds Al-Arabi on 6 September 2018
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.