News from the Arab Press

Qatar only cares about appearances

By Linda Gradstein | The Media Line

July 11, 2017

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 Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, July 6

This week Qatar rejected the list of 13 demands imposed upon it by its neighboring Gulf states, describing the document as “unrealistic.” In fact, it didn’t even bother responding to the demands before their stated ultimatum had already passed. But don’t believe everything you hear: Qatar only cares about appearance. It will soon accept the demands. I am saying so with confidence because Doha’s track record demonstrates that while the government rejects diplomatic solutions in public, it is quick to accept them behind closed doors. This was the case, for example, in 2013, when Doha accepted Riyadh’s demand to tame Al-Jazeera’s vehement attacks on the Kingdom. The only request made by Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, was that the agreement be kept away from the public eye. The same is happening as we speak: Qatari authorities have launched aggressive attacks on Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt, while dismissing their call for reconciliation. The Qatari media assisted this effort by spreading blatant propaganda in support of the Qatari regime. But in a few weeks’ time we will all discover that behind closed doors, Doha fully conceded to the Arab pressure and accepted all 13 demands imposed upon it, and perhaps even several others that we do not yet know about. The question, therefore, is not “if” but “how”. Now we will have to wait and see whether Qatar actually changes its behavior or only pays lip service. Silencing Al-Jazeera’s attacks on Riyadh while opening a new television network in its place, cutting funding for extremist groups while continuing to support them through backchannels, and condemning terrorism while turning a blind eye to Islamist groups operating in its territory will not suffice this time. Qatar must realize that the rules of the game have changed. That is, there is no longer room for this Qatari hypocrisy in these kinds of negotiations. – Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed

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