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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 »

A fence at the border between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Credit Valeriy Melnikov/Sputnik, via Associated Press

My country, Qatar, is a nation under siege. For the past month, its borders and airline routes have been closed off by a regional bloc consisting of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt. The authorities in the neighboring Gulf states have forced the repatriation of Qatari citizens, regardless of age and health.

The bloc has issued a list of wild accusations against Qatar. They include the hosting of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps in our capital, Doha; the funding of the pro-Iranian Lebanese militia organization Hezbollah; and support for the Islamic State terrorist group. This hardly makes sense since Hezbollah and the Islamic State are sworn enemies, at war with each other in Syria.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pocos pueden identificar dónde está el Estado de Qatar en el mapa, pero muchos están al corriente de que la palabra Qatar aparece en todas las camisetas patrocinadas por el Fútbol Club Barcelona. El acuerdo del Barça con el Qatar Sports Investment en 2011 fue histórico para el club, ya que era la primera vez que el club catalán aceptaba un patrocinador en su camiseta. Este año, sin embargo, llevar esa prenda podría ser peligroso si se viaja a través de Oriente Medio. Incluso algunos informes señalan que Arabia Saudí está castigando el uso de esta camiseta. Afortunadamente para los aficionados, el contrato con Qatar terminó el 30 de junio de este año, por lo que la palabra Qatar desaparecerá de las camisetas y los problemas a los que se enfrenta actualmente Qatar no afectarán al fútbol español.…  Seguir leyendo »

El 5 de junio, Arabia Saudí, Emiratos Árabes Unidos, Bahréin y Egipto anunciaban la ruptura de relaciones con Qatar. Su explicación no podía ser más contundente: Qatar es un país que apoya y financia el terrorismo islamista. Desde entonces, la crisis desencadenada amenaza con convertirse en la más seria y preocupante en el golfo Arábigo en lo que llevamos de siglo XXI.

Es imprescindible ir más allá de lo evidente para llegar a comprender las razones reales que se encuentran detrás de esta ruptura. El punto de partida más reciente hay que buscarlo en la cumbre entre Estados Unidos y los países árabes, celebrada en Arabia Saudí a finales del mes de mayo.…  Seguir leyendo »

Is the GCC Worth Belonging To

Thirty-six years ago, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was put together at great speed in reaction to the profound regional uncertainty in the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution and the start of the Iran-Iraq War. As a result, many issues of institutional design were left unaddressed, then and since. The current crisis splitting the GCC – with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain accusing Qatar of connections to Iran and Islamist groups and cutting off diplomatic ties – is now significantly testing the bloc. The longer the standoff goes on, the more the Qataris may wonder whether it is worth belonging to at all.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pocos días después de la reciente visita del presidente de EEUU Donald Trump a Arabia Saudita, se produjo la ruptura de relaciones diplomáticas y órdenes de expulsión de ciudadanos qataríes por parte de siete países, unos del Consejo de Cooperación del Golfo, otros del Magreb africano, como: Bahreím, Emiratos Árabes Unidos, Yemen, Egipto, Libia y por supuesto Arabia Saudita, la principal contrincante de Qatar.

Las tensiones entre los diferentes países no son solamente actuales sino que tienen unos antecedentes claros desde hace décadas. En una de las zonas de mayor importancia geoestratégica desde hace siglos y en tiempos controlada por el poder británico, en el año 1971 el emirato obtuvo la independencia de él ingresando en la Liga Árabe.…  Seguir leyendo »

From left, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority; Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani, then-emir of Qatar; and Khaled Meshal, then-leader of Hamas in 2014. Credit Osama Faisal/Associated Press

Despite shrill rhetoric and a punishing embargo, rising tensions in the Persian Gulf do not threaten to pile another war onto a conflict-ridden Middle East. The dispute between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on one side and Qatar on the other is of long standing and — hyperbolic headlines aside — remains largely unchanged today.

What has changed is the opportunity the Saudis and Emiratis see, with a new friend in the White House, to remove an obstacle in their path toward tackling two more potent adversaries: Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. Their threats and intimidation may bring an adjustment in Qatar’s behavior, but the two countries’ inherent weakness and the differences between them militate against further escalation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Les Emirats arabes unis (EAU) et la France sont des amis et alliés proches depuis que nous avons établi des relations diplomatiques en 1971. Au fil des années, nos deux pays ont progressivement développé un partenariat stratégique multidimensionnel dans plusieurs domaines. Il comprend d’étroites relations économiques et commerciales, une coopération sur le patrimoine culturel, les arts et les sciences, la sécurité commune et la lutte contre le terrorisme, des efforts conjoints pour contrer l’extrémisme et l’instabilité et, enfin, notre désir mutuel de promouvoir le progrès, la tolérance et la modération.

Nos liens économiques et commerciaux dynamiques sont un pilier essentiel dans ce partenariat.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘We should not rebuild the Middle East on the foundations that generated terrorism.’ Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Saudi King Salman and Donald Trump in Riyadh, May 2017. Photograph: AP

The move of Saudi Arabia,the UAE and Bahrain against Qatar was swift. It was launched on the back of a fake news report placed by hackers on the website of Qatar’s official news agency. That allowed the three Gulf states to launch a media campaign led by Saudi- and UAE-controlled TV channels.

Qatar was simultaneously accused of hosting Hamas; supporting the Muslim Brotherhood; backing Hezbollah; having close ties with Iran; sowing the seeds of sedition inside Saudi Arabia, and all the while maintaining intimate relations with Israel. If you can do all those things at the same time, you are indeed a magician.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cuando el 5 de junio las potencias árabes del Golfo anunciaron la interrupción de relaciones diplomáticas con Qatar por sus vínculos con el terrorismo, el mensaje fue claro: no alinearse con las políticas regionales supone un costo. Pero ya pasó casi una semana, y Qatar no parece tener prisa por amoldarse. Mientras tanto, la incoherencia de la política exterior del presidente estadounidense, Donald Trump, prolonga esta fractura regional.

El intento de aislar a Qatar de la región no cambiará su cálculo de la situación, por dos motivos. Para empezar, el país es demasiado rico para dejarse mandonear fácilmente. Cuenta con un abundante suministro de gas natural que se traslada a uno de los niveles de ingreso per cápita más altos del mundo.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Europa le debe importar el Golfo

El mundo suele prestar atención a Oriente Próximo cuando ocurre algo relacionado con la lucha antiterrorista. Los habitantes de la región sufrimos el terrorismo más que otros, pero sabemos que los regímenes árabes utilizan esa lucha para sus ajustes de cuentas con quien les conviene: intelectuales, periodistas, partidos de la oposición y Estados a los que consideran enemigos.

El 5 de junio, tres países del Golfo anunciaron unas medidas extraordinarias contra el Estado de Qatar: cortaron las relaciones diplomáticas, cerraron las conexiones por tierra, mar y aire, cancelaron los vuelos a y desde Doha, ordenaron a sus ciudadanos que no viajaran al país y exigieron a los cataríes que abandonaran sus territorios.…  Seguir leyendo »

U.S. investigators claim Russians might be behind some the hacking of the Qatar News Agency that prompted a diplomatic crisis in the Gulf, but that seems unlikely given current GCC tensions and the homegrown nature of the cyber battle leading up to the spat. While the recent diplomatic breakdown between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors exposes the political differences between the Gulf Cooperation Council member states, it also highlights the emergence of new types of cyber and information warfare. Instead of the Gulf states simply turning their methods of surveillance and propaganda inward to their citizens, they could now be using these methods against one another.…  Seguir leyendo »

The decision by five Arab states to sever ties with Qatar marks another chapter in a multiyear saga of turbulent relations between Qatar and its neighbors. A split between Doha and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was brewing for years. At the heart of the problem lies an irreconcilable difference between the Persian Gulf countries about how to interpret the events of the 2011 Arab Spring and, more important, how to react to them.

In contrast to its GCC neighbors, Qatar actively promoted regime change across the Arab world. The Qataris mobilized finances and offered favorable media coverage to many Islamist actors, including the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hamas in Gaza, the Ennahda party in Tunisia and myriad militias in Libya and Syria.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sorpresiva como puede parecer, la ruptura de relaciones diplomáticas de cuatro países con Qatar anunciada el día 5 de junio junto con otras medidas como el cierre de la frontera terrestre con Arabia Saudí y la suspensión de las comunicaciones aéreas encaja sin embargo muy bien en el anunciado plan de “todos contra Irán”. Este plan fue claramente perfilado en el discurso del presidente Donald Trump en la Cumbre EEUU-países árabes e islámicos del pasado 20-21 de mayo en Riad, así como en las reuniones que éste mantuvo con los jefes de estado de las 6 monarquías del Golfo pérsico. El baile de la danza del sable lo simboliza perfectamente, así como la no invitación a Irán.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the emir of Qatar, at the Arab League summit in Jordan in March. Credit Jordan Pix/Getty Images

In the opaque world of Arab diplomacy, things are never quite as they seem. On the surface, the reason Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut air, land and sea travel to the small peninsula state of Qatar this week was straightforward enough: The gulf states accused their emirate neighbor of giving succor to Islamist extremism, including the so-called Islamic State.

President Donald Trump has since endorsed this view via Twitter, adding that he discussed the “funding of radical ideology” during his recent visit to the Middle East. The gulf leaders he met with were all “pointing to Qatar,” he said when attributing blame.…  Seguir leyendo »