Four Arab foreign ministers met in Cairo to weigh possible further sanctions against Qatar on Wednesday in a dispute that has aroused deep concern among Western allies of the region’s ruling dynasties, key partners in energy and defense.
Regional newspapers with links to their governments suggested the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain might be ill-inclined to accept Qatar’s response to a list of 13 demands.
The editor of the Abu Dhabi government-linked al-Ittihad newspaper wrote that Qatar, with a population of two million compared to Saudi Arabia’s 31 million, was “walking alone in its dreams and illusions, far away from its Gulf Arab brothers”.
The four Arab states broke off diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing Doha of aiding terrorism and courting Iran – a regional rival of the Gulf states which shares interest in a gas field with Doha.
Qatar, whose international diplomatic and commercial profile has risen dramatically in 20 years, driven largely by gas revenues, denies the charges. Officials say the demands are so draconian they suspect they were never seriously meant for negotiation and were instead meant to hobble Doha’s sovereignty.
On the surface this might look like a clear case of good guys vs. bad guys. Don’t be fooled. All of these countries embrace terrorism as a foreign policy tool.
Qatar is merely the latest political football being kicked around by the world’s largest terror exporters.