Qatar blockade


What is the Qatar blockade?

On June 2017, a quarter of country led by Saudi Arabia and that includes the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, started to impose a land and sea blockade on Qatar. The goal was to bring the gas-rich country to its heel. But Qatar refused to capitulate, and since then, the blockade has persisted.

When did Qatar blockade start?

The blockade against Qatar started on June 5th 2017. However, several medias reported that blockading countries had been working for months prior to the start of the blockade to isolate Qatar. In particular, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi had hired lobbyist to convince President Trump and his entourage to adopt an anti-Qatar stance. According to the Washington Post, the UAE hired hackers to hack the Qatar News Agency website and other government media platforms in May 2017. These hackers posted fake remarks on the official Qatar News Agency attributed to the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. In those fake remarks, the Emir of Qatar expressed support for Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Israel.

Qatar blockade
June 5th 2017: four countries imposed a land, sea and air blockade on Qatar

How many countries cut ties with Qatar?

A total of four countries cut ties with Qatar: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt. On June 5th 2017, these four countries severed diplomatic relations with Qatar. Soon after, they imposed a land, air and sea blockade on Qatar. The four countries accuse Qatar of supporting terrorists and criticise its ties with Iran.

Several other countries, mostly africans, followed the footsteps of the quartet. The Maldives, Mauritania, Senegal, Djibouti, the Comoros, Jordan, the Tobruk-based Libyan government, and the Hadi-led Yemeni government cut diplomatic ties with Qatar.

Why is there a blockade against Qatar?

13 unrealistic requests

The quartet presented a list of 13 requests to Qatar. Most notably, the requests include the shutdown of media conglomerate Al-Jazeera and the downgrade of its diplomatic relations with Iran. The then US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, felt that this list of requirements was neither reasonable nor feasible. According to Middle East experts, Qatar would have to give up its sovereignty in order to comply to these requests.

A long history of rivalry

Officially, Saudi Arabia and the UAE blame Qatar’s ties with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. In reality, the Qatar blockade is the apogee of a long history of rivalries for regional hegemony. Far from putting a stop to the growing influence of Qatar, the blockade imposed by its neighbours quickly turned the dispute into a diplomatic showdown.