News Analysis: Diplomatic rift would isolate Qatar: experts

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-06 00:55:42|Editor: yan
Video PlayerClose

(FILES) This file photo taken on March 21, 2017 shows an Etihad Airways aircraft coming in for a landing at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California. (AFP photo)

by Emad al-Azrak

CAIRO, June 5 (Xinhua) -- The decision of a number of Arab countries to sever diplomatic relations with gas-rich Qatar would impose a strict regional isolation on Doha, Egyptian political experts said on Monday.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt cut on Monday diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing the Gulf state of supporting and financing "terrorism" as well as interfering in their internal affairs.

Later on the day, Yemen, the Maldives and Libya's eastern-based government also decided to sever diplomatic relations with Qatar.

"These steps have been taken after all mediation efforts made in the Arab-Islamic-American Summit last month have failed," Egypt's former assistant foreign minister, Hussein Hariedy, told Xinhua.

He said that severing ties with Qatar came after Doha determined to continue pursuing the same policies that support terrorism and are based on interference in the internal affairs of other countries.

"Apparently, Qatar had no desire to amend its policies which led these countries to sever ties with it," Hariedy.

In a statement, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said Egypt decided to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in light of the Gulf Arab state's persistence to take a path against Egypt, and the failure of any attempts to prevent it from supporting terrorist organizations, topped by the Muslim Brotherhood.

It added that Qatar is sheltering leaders of the Brotherhood who targeted security and safety of Egypt by conducting terrorist operations.

The statement attributed cutting ties with Qatar to the state's promotion of extremist thoughts of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, its support for terrorist operations in Sinai, as well as its intervention in Egypt's internal affairs in a way that threatens its national security.

The statement said Egypt would close all the air and marine spaces, ports for all the Qatari transportation means to preserve Egypt's national security.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE took similar decisions by closing all land, sea, and air contacts with the fellow Gulf country.

In 2014, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar to protest its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that is labeled a terrorist organization in the three countries.

"The recent decisions to sever relations will isolate Qatar within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Arab League as well," Ambassador Hariedy pointed out. "This will no doubt cost Qatar a lot."

These measures will intensify the isolation not only on the ruling regime but also on the people of Qatar, he revealed. "Qatar imports most foodstuff from Saudi Arabia, the only country Qatar shares borders with."

Qataris have business and connections in other Gulf states and the recent crisis will "for sure affect all of their trade as well as the deeply rooted family relations," he explained.

Meanwhile, Dr. Mohammad Kamal, a professor of political science at Cairo University, hailed the decision to sever diplomatic relations with Qatar as a "good step" and a beginning to impose "isolation" on Doha, adding that Qatar must revise its policy both within the GCC and in the wider Arab world.

Qatar should review its cooperation with terrorism, its support, funding as well as hosting of terrorist elements on its soil, in addition to a review of its role with regard to Iran, which is in sharp contrast to Gulf policies and policies, Kamal said.

The expert said that Egypt's decision to join Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain gave the issue an Arab dimension and a greater weight, and encouraged other countries to join and take similar steps.

"The ball is now in Qatar's court...the Gulf States and Egypt are waiting for Qatar's reaction and the steps it should take to regain their trust," Kamal said.