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Has Qatar succeeded in facing the blockade?

November 16, 2018 at 12:53 pm

Protesters hold placards during a protest against the Saudi-UAE led aggression on Qatar on 17 June 2017 [Isabel Infantes/Anadolu Agency]

I took another look at the speech made the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, at the opening of the 47th session of the Qatari Advisory Council on 7 November.

I also looked back on his speech from last year, made at almost the same time, at the 46th session of the Council. I found that there is a difference between the two speeches in terms of language, style and content.

In his speech last year, Sheikh Tamim refrained from mentioning the consequences of the “economic blockade” adopted by four Arab countries against Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Arab Republic of Egypt.

He merely said that people and governments in the Gulf region, the Arab world and across the world have denounced this issue. However, in this same speech, he stressed that Qatar would defend its dignity to the end, that it would not engage in a war of words with others. He also promised that every effort would be made to confront the blockade.

Read: Egypt, Bahrain renew support for Qatar blockade

In addition to this, he listed the measures taken since the declaration of the siege on 5 June 2017, five months before the opening of the 46th session of the Advisory Council.

A year after his first speech, Sheikh Tamim mentioned in his second speech Qatar’s success in overcoming the effects of the blockade (or comprehensive boycott), citing examples and figures. He mentioned that the exports were up by 18 per cent compared to the first year of the blockade.

He did not forget to emphasise, in this context, that Qatar has maintained its position as the number one largest source of natural gas. He stressed that the Qatari riyal exchange rate remained steady and stable and that the number of factories operating in the State of Qatar increased by 14 per cent compared to when the siege was first imposed.

These examples confirm two basic facts:

First, the State of Qatar has the flexibility to respond to external challenges, especially in the economic sphere.

The second is that Qatar has the capacity to raise its level of resilience to external challenges.

Read: Gulf families face uncertain future due to Qatar blockade

However, of course Qatar has had difficulties with transportation, especially Qatar Airways, which is suffering from the closed airspaces to its flights by the blockade countries.

This has not deterred many who want to work, invest and deal with the State of Qatar, because its economy remains strong.

What is interesting in Sheikh Tamim’s speech this year is his emphasis on the need to use the concept of “democratic security” in the State of Qatar, so that it can always meet the external challenges with strength and power.

Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani [GovernmentZA/Flickr]

Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani [GovernmentZA/Flickr]

In his speech, he did not use the term “democratic security”. He referred to the concept of security in its various forms, such as food security, security in the police sense, military sense and social security.

The term “democratic security” is a term that is no more than 15 years old. It was the Colombian president, Alvaro Uribe, who coined the term to address the major challenges facing Colombia at the time. This includes the long war between the Colombian army and the FARC revolutionary movement and the war against drug trafficking gangs, white slavery and kidnapping.

The drug gangs, on the one hand, and the revolutionary FARC, on the other, were cooperating with each other in smuggling, buying arms and recruiting elements opposed to the legitimate government in Bogota.

As the FARC operated from the mountains of Colombia and its jungles, drug cartels managed to take control of Medellin and turn it into its headquarters. At that time, young people feared the power of these groups and refused to join the army or the ranks of the Colombian security forces.

Read: UAE to host anti-Qatar conference to aid Saudi

That is why Uribe came up with the idea of ​​”democratic security”, which states that the people must be motivated and supported to do their best in order confront these two challenges that are destroying the Colombian economy and limiting the possibility of its development.

The aim of the “democratic security” policy was to encourage the participation of young people in the army and the security forces, to combat terrorism and organised crime, to increase military allocations and to promote transparency, integrity and good governance so that people view their cooperation with the government as achieving a better future capable of flexibility and confrontation.

Two years later, Uribe managed to eliminate 50 per cent of the killings, smuggling and kidnappings, and managed to confront the FARC. By the end of his term, some of the FARC factions had begun to accept a peace proposal.


This was achieved in 2016 by President Juan Manuel Santos. Since then, Colombia has been experiencing strong economic activity, increased investment and employment, and has achieved much better growth rates than its neighbours in South America, such as Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina and others.

Of course, the challenge facing Qatar is the siege. Therefore, in his speech to the Advisory Council Sheikh Tamim stressed the need for the youth and various groups of people to continuously cooperate with the government in order to achieve welfare for all. His speech also emphasised the need to do things right and to adhere to ethics.

This article first appeared in Arabic in the New Khaleej on 15 November 2018

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.