To start a new week with: Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen suspended their diplomatic relations with Qatar and cut all land, air and sea travel to this country.
Qatar – one of the richest countries in the world with a population of 2,5 million people (80% of which are not locals) and with a substantive influence in the region. This country hosts one of the biggest air fleet in the world – Qatar Airlines. The headquarters of one of the most influential news agency Al Jazeera.
This mainly Sunni populated country showed some compassion towards Iranian Shia government in the recent years, which was not welcomed by its Arab allies. The last drop was the warm wishes of the Qatari officials to the newly elected president in Iran, which does not have much support in the GCC region. Later it was stated, that the twitter account was hacked and these greetings were fabricated. Nevertheless, it appears to be a good reason for Qatar`s neighbours to suspend the diplomatic relations.
In its turn, the cause for such developments can serve the visit of Donald Trump to Saudi Arabia, where the American President was quite certain that the future expansion of the Iranian influence in the region is not welcomed and new terms must be agreed. This message was warmly welcomed. Executed as well. The allies started from Qatar. Now it is clear that above mentioned Arab states won`t back up unless Qatar changes its policies towards Iran. It would a hard trade-off for them, where from one side they host an US military base with around 10,000 soldiers and have (or maybe had?) strong ties with Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and from another side they share a large oil reserves with Iran (and have other agreements with them).
The situation around Qatar is not something new. It was evolving from the time when their government was showing a support to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Iran in the conflict in Yemen, when various local companies were accused in exploiting an illegal labour in constructing the venues for the World Football Cup (2022). However, after the visit of Donald Trump the situation drastically escalated. Most probably this diplomatic crisis will evolve in something bigger and give a rise to a new political order in the fragile region.
The question is: will we still explore the world together with Qatar Airlines and see their name on jerseys of FC Barcelona? We live in a globalized world and whatever happens thousand miles away still affects our life. Just think of it, when you take the next flight…
Gayk Ayvazyan for ApricotLawyer.com
Map: taken from Aljazeera.com
Featured image: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times