The siege on Qatar has entered its third year, during which the besieging countries achieved nothing but more disappointment to their long record of failure. Qatar did not concede its sovereignty nor did these countries benefit anything considerable from the siege on Qatar. The accusation directed at Qatar of funding and sponsoring terrorism has evaporated due to the lack of credibility and recklessness of the besieging countries, which has only brought several criticisms onto them from various countries and international organisations.
When “Operation Decisive Storm” began, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman believed that controlling Sana’a and ending the Houthi presence would take place within two weeks. Five years later, the Saudi-Emirati alliance is still far from making even one achievement in the war on Yemen. Based on the same logic, when the besieging countries announced their siege on Qatar, Bin Salman predicted that it would take a week for Qatar to give in and seek a solution that would deprive it of its sovereignty. If this is an indication of anything, it is indicative of the state of mind dominating Riyadh. It is a reckless mind-set that does not possess the ability to analyse matters, and which causes it to lack the proper qualification to rule a large country such as Saudi Arabia.
Unlike the hasty besieging states, Doha has adopted a strategy to confront the siege that consists of three components. First, to show willingness to hold dialogue, while emphasising its sovereignty. This, in turn, contributed to the weakening regional and international support for the besieging countries. The countries that agreed with the four besieging countries were very few and could be counted on one hand. They are marginal countries that are not influential. Secondly, Doha launched a diplomatic attack on an international level, which contributed to undermining the statements made by the besieging countries and exposed them. Neither the US adopted the position of the besieging countries, nor did the EU, before pressure was put on Doha. This is due to the fact that the accusations made by the besieging countries were untrue and that the essence of the entire issue aimed to eliminate Qatar’s sovereignty, which is something the international community cannot accept. Thirdly, creating a national position and stance, which was clearly manifested in the Qatari people’s rallying behind their leadership. This contributed to the re-evaluation of many domestic Qatari policies with the goal of self-reliance in producing many products that came from the besieging countries, especially Saudi Arabia.
In addition to this, Qatar won the media battle, as Al Jazeera managed to overwhelmingly defeat the besieging countries’ media outlets. Unlike the media of the besieging countries, which were characterised by improvisation, a lack of professionalism and the fabrication of news, Al Jazeera fought a battle of professional enlightenment. This allowed it to win over the Arab public opinion. The Arab support for Qatar was evident after its national team defeated the besieging countries’ teams and won the Asian Cup held in the UAE. Anyone monitoring social media sites cannot help but notice the tremendous support for the Qatari team, not only because it is an Arab team, but because it represents a besieged state that refused to give in and instead increased the value of its national independence and sovereignty. The Arab nations that long for liberation from domination and tyranny cannot align with Arab regimes that only align with tyranny and counter-revolutions.
As the saying goes, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, and this applies to Qatar today. The siege created a state of Qatari patriotism that contributed to its steadfastness and victory in the battle. Qatar’s economy is growing at a fast pace compared to the besieging countries and its people are enjoying living standards that are far superior to that of the besieging countries. Qatar still has the highest per capita income in the world and this does not seem to be changing anytime soon. This does not mean that Qatar is comfortable with the siege, as Doha is constantly seeking to establish relationships with its Arab neighbours based on mutual respect and good neighbourliness. Every statement made by Doha is an effort to achieve this, but it will not do so at any cost. Its neighbours must understand that their siege on Qatar will not succeed.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Sharq on 11 June 2019
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.