World View: Al-Jazeera May Be at the Center of the Gulf Crisis with Qatar

A general view shows the newsroom at the headquarters of the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite channel in Doha 14 November 2006. The English-language version of Al-Jazeera's launches 15 November 2006 after a year-long delay. The pan-Arab TV station is out to capitalise on the strategic importance of London as a European …
AFP/KARIM JAAFAR KARIM JAAFAR / AFP

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Saudi Arabia, UAE leak 13 demands to end Qatar crisis
  • UAE threatens ‘parting of the ways’ unless Qatar meets 13 demands
  • Al-Jazeera takes center stage in the Gulf crisis

Saudi Arabia, UAE leak 13 demands to end Qatar crisis

An aerial view of Doha, Qatar, in the fog, as the sun rises
An aerial view of Doha, Qatar, in the fog, as the sun rises

On June 5, four Arab countries – Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt – imposed a land, sea and air blockade on Qatar. Other Arab countries followed suit. Many international politicians have said they were “mystified” by what the Arab countries were demanding of Qatar to end the crisis. The US asked Saudi Arabia to produce a list of demands that were “reasonable and actionable.”

It is known that Saudi Arabia and UAE had heavily criticized Qatar for its strong support of the Muslim Brotherhood, considered a terrorist organization by America and some European nations, for its continuing trade and diplomatic relations with Iran, with whom Saudi Arabia and some other Arab countries have broken diplomatic relations entirely, and for its use of al-Jazeera to propagate a message of support for the Muslim Brotherhood, and criticism of the leaders of other Arab states. However, the detailed demands were not known.

On Friday, a list of 13 demands appeared in the media. It is not clear where the list came from. The Saudis claim that the list was supposed to remain secret, so that negotiations would be effective. The Saudis claim that Qatar leaked the list in order to sabotage the negotiations. Other reports claim that the list came from Kuwait, which is acting as a mediator.

Here are the demands, as leaked to AP:

  1. Curb diplomatic ties with Iran and close its diplomatic missions there. Expel members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard from Qatar and cut off any joint military cooperation with Iran. Only trade and commerce with Iran that complies with U.S. and international sanctions will be permitted.
  2. Sever all ties to “terrorist organizations,” specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic State group, al-Qaida, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Formally declare those entities as terrorist groups.
  3. Shut down Al-Jazeera and its affiliate stations.
  4. Shut down news outlets that Qatar funds, directly and indirectly, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al Araby Al-Jadeed and Middle East Eye.
  5. Immediately terminate the Turkish military presence currently in Qatar and end any joint military cooperation with Turkey inside of Qatar.
  6. Stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organizations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, the United States and other countries.
  7. Hand over “terrorist figures” and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain to their countries of origin. Freeze their assets, and provide any desired information about their residency, movements and finances.
  8. End interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs. Stop granting citizenship to wanted nationals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain. Revoke Qatari citizenship for existing nationals where such citizenship violates those countries’ laws.
  9. Stop all contacts with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain. Hand over all files detailing Qatar’s prior contacts with and support for those opposition groups.
  10. Pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other, financial losses caused by Qatar’s policies in recent years. The sum will be determined in coordination with Qatar.
  11. Align itself with the other Gulf and Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically, as well as on economic matters, in line with an agreement reached with Saudi Arabia in 2014.
  12. Agree to all the demands within 10 days of it being submitted to Qatar, or the list becomes invalid. The document doesn’t specify what the countries will do if Qatar refuses to comply.
  13. Consent to monthly audits for the first year after agreeing to the demands, then once per quarter during the second year. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.

Many analysts have said that these demands are not “reasonable and actionable,” and that in fact the demands are so drastic that the list appears to have been designed to be rejected. AP and Atlantic

UAE threatens ‘parting of the ways’ unless Qatar meets 13 demands

According to reports from Qatar, the land, sea and air blockade has little effect on the daily lives of the citizens. Although Qatar imports 90% of its food, and formerly imported most of it from Saudi Arabia and UAE, the grocery store shelves are fully stocked, with supplies coming in from Iran and Turkey. According to one reporter, the main difference is that there are more Turkish dairy products, “which have proven to be higher quality and less expensive” than previous products. To all appearances, the blockade has been a failure.

UAE’s foreign affairs minister Anwar Gargash spoke out on Saturday to say that the purpose of the blockade was not to punish Qatar, but to change its behavior:

The alternative is not escalation, the alternative is parting of ways, because it is very difficult for us to maintain a collective grouping. This is not about regime change, this about behavioral change.

“The mediators’ ability to shuttle between the parties and try and reach a common ground has been compromised by this leak [the leak of the 13 demands]. Their success is very dependent on their ability to move but not in the public space.

Gargash says that unless Qatar meets the demands, it will be expelled from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Beyond that, it’s not clear what is being threatened by “parting of ways.” Doha News and The National (UAE)

Related Articles

Al-Jazeera takes center stage in the Gulf crisis

Although all 13 of the demands in the list are serious, especially Qatar’s relationship with Iran, it is hard to escape the feeling that the heart of the dispute is over al-Jazeera.

I have watched al-Jazeera English (AJE) for years, and there is no question that it has an editorial point of view. I have written on several occasions that AJE hates Israel, which is what one would expect and is not surprising. But what is surprising is that AJE seems to hate Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority even more than it hates Israel. I cannot recall ever hearing an editorial criticism of Hamas, which is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, and I certainly can’t recall AJE referring to Hamas as a terrorist organization. So those who claim that al-Jazeera is “pro-Palestinian” are being misleading in my opinion. What they are is pro-Hamas.

Al-Jazeera was launched in 1996, and since then its two major affiliates, AJE and al-Jazeera Arabic (AJA) have become the most widely heard news sources in the Mideast. It is owned and funded by Qatar’s government. It has always been encouraged to have an editorial policy of criticizing other Arab governments, although Qatar’s government never received much criticism. Attempts by other countries to compete, such as Saudi Arabia’s al-Arabiya, have succeeded only moderately.

On AJA, one of the most popular shows for years has been “Sharia and Life,” a call-in show hosted by a leading Muslim Brotherhood cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Viewers could call in and received advice on food, family, clothing, politics, or anything else. Much of this advice contradicted the policy of Saudi Arabia and other Arab states.

The biggest differences began to emerge after the July 2013 coup that ousted Egypt’s democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government. Al-Jazeera came down firmly on the side of Morsi, and against the coup leader, General Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, who later became Egypt’s president. Several al-Jazeera reporters were arrested in Egypt, and remained in jail for several years. Gulf Times and Atlantic

Related Articles

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Russia, United Arab Emirates, UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Iran, Egypt, Anwar Gargash, al-Jazeera, Israel, Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Morsi, Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi
Permanent web link to this article
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail

.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.