Qatar blockade


When did the blockade start in Qatar?

The blockade against Qatar started on June 5th 2017. However, several medias have reported that lobbyists hired by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi had been working for months before the blockade 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, that expressed support for Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Israel.

How many countries cut ties with Qatar?

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic relations with Qatar and imposed a land, air and sea blockade on Qatar. The four countries accuse Qatar of supporting terrorists and criticize 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?

The quartet presented a list of 13 requests to Qatar, which were deemed unrealistic and made it difficult for the international community to support such a move against a country that ultimately has many allies. The requests include the shutdown of media conglomerate Al-Jazeera, the downgrade of its diplomatic relations with Iran and the closure of a Turkish military base. According to Middle East experts, accepting these requests implied that Qatar had to give up its sovereignty. The then US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, felt that this list of requirements was neither reasonable nor feasible.

Officially, Saudi Arabia and the UAE blame Qatar’s ties with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. In reality, the 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 neighbors quickly turned the dispute into a diplomatic showdown.