Qatar still in its neighbours' stranglehold

For a month now Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain have isolated Qatar. Threats, blockades, sealed borders and ultimatums are the non-military arsenal being deployed in the Gulf region. What is really at stake here?

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Le Temps (CH) /

West doesn't want to annoy good customers

Le Temps is disappointed by the Western governments' cautious attitude in the Qatar conflict:

“A new crisis has had the Arab World in its grips for the past month. Unlike the others, this one isn't being fought with weapons. But the consequences could be just as disastrous. ... It could lead to the collapse of one of the last islands of prosperity in the Arab world. ... With so much at stake one could expect a more energetic reaction on the part of the West. But we've seen nothing of the sort. Donald Trump has welcomed Saudi Arabia's coup, while the Europeans are preaching dialogue with an impartiality that above all testifies to the desire to avoid falling out with ultra-rich Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Such moral weakness can only encourage even worse forms of blackmail.”

Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

Al Jazeera a pioneer in the Middle East

The closure of Al Jazeera was among the demands that Qatar hadn't complied with by the deadline on Monday. The TV broadcaster has made many enemies, Helsingin Sanomat observes:

“With its high-quality documentaries and investigative journalism, Al Jazeera's English-language channel even gives stations like the BBC and CNN a run for their money. The Arabic-language channel has a different audience and orientation. It is widely viewed as partisan. It has also given Islamist groups that Saudi Arabia sees as a threat the opportunity to express their views. ... Regardless of such criticism, however, Al Jazeera has revolutionised the media in the Arab world. It's a trailblazer that offers new perspectives on the Middle East and even gives critics of authoritarian governments a platform to air their views. That's why it has become a target in the regional power struggle.”

Cumhuriyet (TR) /

Fight for supremacy in the Islamic world

Cumhuriyet sees Qatar's isolation in the context of a fight for predominance in the Islamic world:

“Qatar is enormously rich. With a per capita income of 60,787 dollars it's the leader among Arab states. And clearly it wants to develop its own special focus. One can see this in particular in its effort to excel in the media industry - for which Saudi Arabia has consistently raked it over the coals. ... Particularly interesting in that regard is that so many of Qatar's adversaries in the Islamic world are suddenly hurling the same accusations, namely that it supports terror attacks linked to Iran, the militant Shiites in Yemen, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brothers, Hamas, al Qaeda and the IS! All these groups have only one thing in common, however: Islam. This conflict is about who will lead 'Homo Islamicus'.”

La Tribune (FR) /

Will Qatar be driven into Iran's arms?

Qatar could move even closer to Iran as a result of the isolation, La Tribune warns:

“The pressure on Qatar is aimed mainly at forcing the emirate to stop funding terrorism and to choose a side, particularly as it is home to one of the biggest US army bases, whose principal mission is fighting the IS. Paradoxically, however, as a result of economic interests the pressure could push the country into the arms of Iran, which is supported by Russia and China. ... The rhetoric used by the US president during his speech in Riyadh - Iran is part of the 'axis of evil' - is the same as that used by George Bush junior about Iraq before the Second Gulf War, the consequences of which are well known.”

Il Sole 24 Ore (IT) /

ECB must keep an eye on oil prices

Il Sole 24 Ore discusses the possibility of oil prices soaring because of the Qatar crisis and explains that this could force the ECB to correct its expansive monetary policy:

“Should it come to a massive rise in prices the central banks would be forced to choose between letting inflation rise so as not to stifle recovery or slowing down inflation and pushing the economy into a recession. For the ECB, which has ascribed heavily to an ultra-expansive monetary policy, even the most cautious decision could turn into a clear but not necessarily brusque change of course. That would definitely be necessary to find the way back to a more balanced monetary policy, which is no easy task.”

Asharq Al-Awsat (SA) /

Qatar only has itself to blame!

Qatar has done immense damage to the region in recent years, the London-based Saudi paper writes in defence of the isolation policy:

“The emirate of Qatar has but one choice: to return to the fold of its neighbours. And that necessitates not just a renunciation of its previous policies, but also a fundamental revision of the idea on which it is based. The country should take a look at its location and pursue a policy that corresponds to its real size. ... Let us hope that Qatar will learn this lesson: you can't buy yourself a new geographical location or history. ... Severing ties offers a chance to bring the emirate to its senses. If that happens as early as tomorrow we will open our hearts to it once more.”

Al Jazeera (QA) /

Saudi Arabia still in for a surprise

Qatar must be patient, explains Abdulrahman Izz on the website of the Qatari-based, state-run broadcaster Al-Jazeera:

“The major challenge now will be for Qatar to demonstrate cohesion and perseverance and pursue a skilful diplomatic course. Time works in favour of the emirate and against its neighbours on the Gulf because they are suffering from major economic and security problems. Moreover, they face the discontent of their own populations, who can't understand this political escalation that comes at such a difficult time. This calls the blockade policy into question and may actually end it. … The Gulf Cooperation Council is in danger of collapsing now that Kuwait and Oman have rejected the policy of the other Gulf countries.”

Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

Saudis have got the backing they wanted

Trump's visit to Riyadh and the armaments deal signed there were the long-awaited absolution for the Arab potentates' claims to power, the Frankfurter Rundschau comments:

“It's no wonder that just two weeks later the Saudi royal family is attempting to reap the first benefits of this expensive invitation. Because the Saudis and their vassals in the Gulf Cooperation Council have interpreted Trump's words in such a way that now an Arab-American front against Iran is in place, allowing them to settle old scores with local dissidents. That said, the accusation that super-rich Qatar finances radical Islamists is well founded. However, the same goes for the chief prosecutor Saudi Arabia and silent Kuwait. To that extent this bold behaviour could soon backfire. Because the attacks in the Middle East and Europe will continue, increasingly posing the question of where the ideological instigators are located.”

Jornal de Negócios (PT) /

Adding fuel to the fire in crisis region

Qatar's diplomatic isolation will further destabilise the region, Jornal de Negócios warns:

“The breaking of diplomatic ties with Qatar - as well as the cutting off of all land, sea and air traffic routes - was a predictable epilogue. … This is the biggest diplomatic crisis among the states on the Persian Gulf within living memory - and the result of a sophisticated propaganda campaign aimed at discrediting little Qatar and its emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. … All this discord between Riyadh and Doha only adds fuel to the fire - at a time when new alliances are being forged in the Middle East and old allies are falling out. … It also reinforces the disagreements within the Gulf Cooperation Council, which appears increasingly divided on many issues, starting with relations with Iran.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Riyadh acting hypocritically

Rzeczpospolita sees Riyadh's move as hypocritical:

“The Saudis' concern about peace in the region having been disrupted by Islamist radicals would be more believable if they themselves didn't support the extremists. The British opposition is demanding of the government that it finally publish a report which discloses who supports the jihadists in Britain. According to the opposition the government is hiding the report so as not to point a finger at the Saudis. One source of the ideology that drives Muslims to blow themselves up at stadiums is without doubt to be found in Saudi Arabia. Another small source is in Qatar. But should the Saudis really begin the fight against Islamist fundamentalism there?”

Webcafé (BG) /

2022 Fifa World Cup in danger

The organiser of the Fifa World Cup 2022 will face huge difficulties, the online portal Webcafé comments:

“The upcoming sporting event is of utmost importance for Qatar. The country has invested massively in stadiums and infrastructure in recent years. Twelve new football stadiums are being built, one of them on a made-to-measure artificial island. But without imports of construction materials from abroad that wouldn't be possible. ... The airline of the United Arab Emirates will stop flying to Qatar, and the six emirates have also closed their airspace to the state airline Qatar Airways. That means flights from Europe and Asia, which are the most profitable for the airline, will become far more expensive and be subject to serious delays, prompting many passengers to cancel their flights.”