Khalid Al Sayed
Last week, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar accusing Doha of not implementing a GCC agreement not to interfere in each other’s internal affairs. The move was necessary ‘to protect our security and stability’, they said.
Reacting to this unprecedented move, Qatar’s cabinet said the action had “nothing to do with their national interests and security and stability, but there are differences of opinion on a number of issues outside the Gulf Cooperation Council”.
Actually what has happened is a repercussion of the Arab Spring. The situation in Bahrain is not getting better, with more people dying and the reforms going very slow; Saudi has no role in the Arab Spring except their involvement in Syria; and the UAE has been overreacting to activities of its own people.
In this context, the recall decision is a calculated move to take the region back to the pre-Arab Spring days because Saudi Arabia has lost its leadership role in the Middle East.
Also, Saudi and Bahrain were not happy with the agreement between Iran and West, and could not understand “why the US rushed toward Iran, despite the negative policies of Tehran in the region and toward regional states”. It’s also important that this decision has come before the visit of President Barack Obama to Saudi Arabia, and before the elections in Egypt.
Saudi has been trying to play a leadership role not only in Syria but also in Egypt and has been blaming Qatar for its failure in Syria and even for the instability in Egypt. And more important decisions are awaited, for example, a tighter federal union between Saudi and Bahrain or a core union of at least three Gulf countries. The Saudi foreign minister had announced last week that a decision on the much-anticipated GCC union would be announced before the bloc’s next summit later this year.
The joint action by the three countries will affect political reforms in the GCC and take the region back to square one, and also damage the freedom of expression and human rights. Ultimately, it’s not about Qatar, Al Jazeera and Brotherhood. Much more is at stake.
It must also be noted that the diplomatic action shows a weakness in dealing with the changes after the Arab uprisings. People in the GCC are ready for reforms and are ready to face all challenges, but it’s unfortunate that some GCC states want to take the region back to where it was 30 years ago. The Peninsula