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The 41st GCC Summit marks a turning point in the Qatar crisis. However, if not repaired, the issues that led to the crisis could easily resurface.

5 January 2021 marked the formal beginning of the end of the three-and-a-half-year Qatar crisis. GCC leaders, including the Qatari Emir Tamim and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, gathered for the 41st GCC Summit in Al Ula, Saudi Arabia where they signed the ‘security and stability’ agreement.

They publicly acknowledged it was time to ‘fold the page of the past’ officially moving beyond the acrimony and tensions that had pervaded GCC politics since 2017. As part of the agreement, the Quartet states that led the blockade (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain) agreed to open air, land and sea routes to Qatar.…  Seguir leyendo »

Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, welcomes Qatar's Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani in Al Ula, Saudi Arabia on Jan. 5. (Getty Images Agency/Anadolu) (Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani traveled to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 5 for the annual summit of Gulf Cooperation Council countries — and signed an agreement ending the 43-month air, land and sea blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

While the specific terms of the agreement have not been made public, Saudi Arabia has reopened its land border and airspace to Qatar and the Qataris are likely to withdraw legal claims against the four blockading states.

Why did the blockade happen?

Saudi Arabia and the other three countries launched the blockade without warning on June 5, 2017, cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar and closing their airspace and ports to Qatari traffic.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cows are are fed at a dairy factory at Baladna farm in al-Khor, Qatar. Photo: Karim Jaafar/AFP via Getty Images.

Earlier this month, Sheikh Tamim – the emir of Qatar – hailed the country’s success in overcoming the impacts of the embargo levied by the so-called Arab Quartet – Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Qatar will post a budget surplus for the first time in three years, and the country’s long-term plan for economic diversification has taken great strides, according to the emir. Key among the achievements cited was the advancement of Qatar’s domestic food industry.

When the blockade was introduced in June 2017, it threw the vulnerability of Qatar’s domestic food supply to outside interruption into sharp relief.…  Seguir leyendo »

Después de dos años y medio como embajador del Estado de Qatar en Madrid, llega el momento de cerrar un ciclo. Decir adiós a España profesionalmente no es tarea fácil. No lo digo porque este sea un artículo de despedida y estas las palabras que se espera leer. Lo digo porque España ocupa un lugar esencial en mi carrera profesional y muy especialmente en mi vida personal. La primera vez que llegué fue en 1986, un año crucial para España por su incorporación a la Unión Europea. Entonces, como joven diplomático, tuve mi primera experiencia en la Embajada, donde trabajé hasta 1989.…  Seguir leyendo »

FILE - In this May 5, 2018, file photo, a giant image of the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, adorns a tower in Doha, Qatar. The tiny, energy-rich Arab nation of Qatar announced on Monday, Dec. 3, 2018 it would withdraw from OPEC, mixing its aspirations to increase production outside of the cartel's constraints with the politics of slighting the Saudi-dominated group amid the kingdom's boycott of Doha. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili, File)

For a half-century, Qatar has been a tiny, desert oasis for the Muslim Brotherhood and many of the world’s most virulent Islamists. In the 1960s, as Egypt’s Gamel Abdel Nasser once again banned and cracked-down on the Brotherhood, thousands of the group’s agitators, clerics, and community organizers were forced to retreat elsewhere into the Middle East, Europe, and North America.

Since then, Qatar has been the Brotherhood’s most hospitable base of operations. In time, Brotherhood Islamism would soon emerge as Qatar’s de-facto state ideology, as the ruling al-Thani family welcomed the Islamists with lavish funding, the highest state honors, and the establishment of new Islamist institutions that would seek to indoctrinate thousands.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Ras Laffan Industrial City, Qatar’s principal site for production of liquefied natural gas and gas-to-liquid, administrated by Qatar Petroleum, lies some 50 miles north of the capital Doha.CreditCreditKarim Jaafar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The surprising declaration by Qatar about leaving OPEC on Jan. 1 is a strategic response by the country to a changing energy landscape and the 18-month old ongoing boycott of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

Qatar’s decision to move away from a regionwide consensus among the Gulf’s OPEC members is a reminder of the regional tensions arising from the assertiveness of Saudi Arabia, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

This display of autonomy spilled over into the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council to which Qatar and three of its detractors belong and which held its annual summit on Sunday.…  Seguir leyendo »

The two-faced scourge of cyberwarfare

Speaking to the U.N. General Assembly last week, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani promised that his country would soon hold an international conference on the scourge of hacking and cyberwarfare.

That’s excellent. Qatar is the perfect country to host such a confab. The regime’s officials could give speeches about how they recruit hackers and select their targets; the cyber mercenaries on Qatar’s payroll could discuss their career paths in hacking the citizens of foreign countries; and the American media consultants who work for Qatar could hold a panel discussion on how to successfully pitch and place hacked emails to and in the American media.…  Seguir leyendo »

En los últimos meses, diversos aspectos culturales han saltado a un primer plano en los medios españoles. El hecho de que Cultura haya recuperado un Ministerio propio o la esperada bajada del IVA del cine han multiplicado las noticias y reflexiones acerca de un ámbito que no siempre cuenta con la atención que merece. Y se ha hablado mucho de la llamada diplomacia cultural. Esta vertiente no es una novedad, ya que existe desde tiempos inmemoriales. En un siglo XXI tristemente marcado por conflictos en numerosos puntos del planeta, recurrir a la diplomacia cultural no es una opción, sino una absoluta necesidad.…  Seguir leyendo »

For more than 15 years the Middle East has been a region of turmoil and instability. Transnational terrorism, waves of displaced populations and seemingly intractable wars present global threats that affect countries far from the region.

In Qatar, we believe that the crises in the Middle East are interconnected and require comprehensive solutions, and that peace and stability will be restored only when the region’s countries agree to work together to reach consensus on key challenges, including the destabilizing influence of sectarianism, rising youth unemployment and our common need to diversify our energy-dependent economies.

But at a time when Arab allies should be united in facing the atrocity of the mass killings in Syria, the escalating war in Yemen, and the rebuilding of state institutions in Libya and Iraq, some regional players have chosen to pursue petty grievances and selfish ambitions that undermine our unity.…  Seguir leyendo »

Este es el artículo que me hubiera gustado no escribir nunca, la opinión que jamás debería haberse publicado. Por desgracia, los deseos no siempre se corresponden con la realidad. El 5 de junio de 2017, el pueblo qatarí amaneció con la noticia de la ruptura de relaciones diplomáticas decretada por Arabia Saudí, Emiratos Árabes Unidos, Egipto y Bahréin. Sin previo aviso y sin razón alguna, estos Estados establecieron un cruel bloqueo contra Qatar que se prolonga 365 días después. Desde un primer momento, los impulsores cerraron sus fronteras terrestres, aéreas y marítimas, impidieron la llegada a nuestro país de todo tipo de productos, entre los que se incluyen muchos de primera necesidad, y expulsaron a los ciudadanos qataríes residentes en su territorio.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Gulf Cooperation Council meeting in December. Photo: Getty Images.

One year ago, four countries – Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain – announced that they were severing diplomatic, trade and transport ties with Qatar. Since then, no progress has been made in resolving their differences.

The four have sought to brand Qatar as a supporter of extremism, and have called on it to curb its ties with Iran and Turkey, to close Al Jazeera, and to align itself firmly with their own foreign policies. At the core of the dispute, however, is Qatar’s support for political Islamist movements of various hues, especially the Muslim Brotherhood.

The UAE in particular sees the Muslim Brotherhood as a serious domestic political threat, and has accused Qatar of supporting a group that wanted to carry out a coup inside the UAE in 2013.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hace apenas una semana, el ministro de Asuntos Exteriores de Arabia Saudí, Adel al Jubeir, tuvo un encuentro con un reducido grupo de periodistas españoles con motivo de su visita a Madrid. Durante el mismo, el mandatario pronunció unas duras acusaciones contra Qatar. Con el objetivo de no tergiversar en ningún momento las declaraciones del ministro saudí, me permito reproducir literalmente sus palabras: «La gente ve en Qatar el Mundial de fútbol de 2022. Ve bellos edificios y modernas explotaciones energéticas y cree que es una nación normal. Nosotros vemos el mal».

Tal vez el ministro Al Jubeir vea maldad en un país que se ha convertido en plataforma de libertades, que apuesta por la educación de los jóvenes y que alberga seminarios y conferencias de carácter regional e internacional, como WISE o Doha Forum.…  Seguir leyendo »

FROM LEFT: Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmad al-Khalifa attend a Cairo news conference in July after their meeting that discussed the diplomatic situation with Qatar. (Khaled Elfiqi/Pool/European Pressphoto Agency)

Egypt is at the ideological center of the ongoing dispute between Qatar and its fellow Gulf Cooperation Council members Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, Egypt has been a bellwether for both political and economic reform in the wider Middle East and North Africa. It is also the focal point of experimental efforts of the gulf states to exercise policies of financial and political intervention. How the current GCC crisis unfolds in Egypt can tell us much about the new norms of foreign intervention ­— whether economic, political or military — in the region.…  Seguir leyendo »

En junio, Arabia Saudita, Bahréin, Egipto, los Emiratos Árabes Unidos, Libia, Maldivas y Yemen cortaron relaciones diplomáticas y económicas con Qatar. Esta crisis del Golfo terminará, de un modo u otro. Pero todavía está por verse que sea en un modo favorable a su principal instigador, el príncipe heredero saudita Mohammed bin Salmán (MBS).

Una solución extrema, pero improbable, sería un cambio de régimen por la vía militar, por el que el emir de Qatar, jeque Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, fuera sustituido con un miembro de la familia Al Thani más influenciable. Una posibilidad más cercana es que Qatar deje de ser refugio de unos pocos miembros de la Hermandad Musulmana y de Hamás, y prometa disimuladamente poner freno a Al Jazeera, la red de televisión financiada por el estado qatarí, que transmite en toda la región.…  Seguir leyendo »

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Credit Fayez Nureldine/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The spat between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which is accusing Qatar of supporting Islamist extremism and terrorism, remains perplexing. Perplexing not because Qatar is innocent — it has sponsored and hosted far too many jihadists for anyone to plausibly claim otherwise — but because it is the Saudis who are objecting to the funding of extremism. Qatar should be called out, but preferably by those who haven’t spent quite so much time and money advancing extremism themselves.

To be clear, it is not that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been directly funding terrorist organizations, and certainly not in Western countries.…  Seguir leyendo »

For more than two months, Qatar has been under a political and economic blockade led by Saudi Arabia. Just last week, Qatar approved a draft law that gives permanent residency status to certain noncitizens, including children of Qatari women married to non-Qatari men.

With everything the besieged country has been doing — changing its shipping routes, finding new importers of basic food products, and solidifying its defenses — why is Qatar spending time changing its residency laws?

Qatari leadership is using this crisis to its advantage

By pushing through domestic policy goals that will reshape not only the country but the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as a whole, this move is an indication that the Qatari leadership is using this crisis to its advantage.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nigeria: Growing Insecurity on Multiple Fronts

Nigeria is facing a time of uncertainty and peril. President Muhammadu Buhari’s failing health – he has spent more than 110 days battling an undisclosed illness in the UK – is prompting intense manoeuvring regarding who will run for president in 2019, particularly among loyalists and others seeking to preserve Northern rule. The eight-year-old insurgency by the radical Islamist group Boko Haram persists. An older problem, Biafra separatist agitation in the South East, is provoking dangerous domino effects in the north and Niger Delta, while deadly clashes between herders and farmers are escalating across the central belt and spreading southward.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Tuesday, President Trump spoke with Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said shortly after a visit to Washington by Oman’s minister of state for foreign affairs. Though a less visible negotiator than Kuwait, Oman has been active in efforts to mediate the crisis in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Can Oman continue to avoid taking sides in this conflict — and will its neutrality allow it to arbitrate effectively?

Oman’s role in the war in Yemen offers insight into its potential for mediating the Qatar crisis. During my recent research in Oman, it was clear that while it has benefited from Qatar’s economic and political isolation, Oman’s ability to fully pursue these opportunities cannot not be considered in isolation of its ongoing efforts to broker peace in Yemen, nor its domestic economic environment.…  Seguir leyendo »

Qatar’s foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson exchange a memorandum of understanding in Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday. (Naseem Zeitoon/Reuters)

While Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is currently in the Gulf attempting to broker an end to the crisis between Qatar and four Arab countries, the conflict shows no signs of a resolution. The crisis broke on June 5, shortly following President Trump’s visit to the region. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain declared a blockade of Qatar with no evident immediate cause. The anti-Qatar quartet released an extreme list of 13 demands which seemed intended to be rejected.

After Qatar brushed aside the Quartet’s July 3 deadline, the list of 13 demands was whittled down to six.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Qatar Crisis

The Polish sociologist and philosopher Zygmunt Bauman used to say that we are living in liquid times. He was referring to an age of uncertainty, characterised by a constant state of change in which social institutions dissolve more quickly than new ones are able to form, with fear and anxiety as dominant factors.

With plenty of evidence that the liquidity of alliances has become one of the main features of an increasingly fragmented and often contradictory Middle East, the same thinking applies to geopolitics in the region today.

Solid blocs are rare. Alliances are short-lived and cemented in fear rather than in shared identities and common projects.…  Seguir leyendo »