The dramatic decision of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain to cut ties with Qatar was quite a surprise. Some referred to it as the biggest diplomatic crisis in the gulf since the 1991 Iraq war (see apnews). The formal reason given for the act was Qatar’s terror ties. Although those ties cannot be denied, the media analyzed correctly that the gel behind the boycott is most probably Qatar’s ties with Iran.
The journalists, commentators and pundits responded to the Qatar boycott in three ways. Some described Qatar’s negative activity, including terror support, and thus found adequate foundation and justification for the decision. Others pointed to the hypocrisy of isolating Qatar for acts which just about all the gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, are guilty of. Yet, the most common theme, supported by just about every coverage, was to focus on “the real reason” behind the dramatic stand, meaning Qatar’s ties with Iran.
Among those describing Qatar’s vast negative activity as the basis for the boycott, we find newsweekme, quoting the UAE Minister of state for foreign affairs Dr. Anwar Gargash, and the washingtonpost, describing in full Qatar’s long term ties with Islamic militant groups.
Although theatlantic recognizes Qatar’s terror support and network, and even describes it expansively, it highlights the hypocrisy of the isolation of Qatar. Remarking that if one sanctions for terror support, then one should add Kuwait (funding of jihadists in Syria, tolerance for Muslim Brothers), Saudi Arabia (9/11 hijackers, home to radical clerics, historic channeling of funds to various militant insurgents, failing to block terrorist financing, failure in blocking foreign fighters, recognition of the Taliban), UAE (home to a fair share of hate mongers). The bostonglobe, perhaps unintentionally, indirectly feed the hypocrisy claim with their article titled Saudi Arabia is destabilizing world, emphasizing Saudi Arabia’s vast terror connections and negative conduct. Not Qatar, and not Iran. Saudi Arabia. thehill even associated the Saudi trick, of isolation of Qatar, to a “House of Cards” ploy.
Still, the most common theme of all is the Iran component. Just about all above mentioned sources (excepting the Boston Globe) connect the isolation of Qatar to Iran. The assumption being that the driving force behind the Qatar isolation is the alliance’s concern regarding Qatar’s relationship with Iran. Thehill reads in the Iran-Qatar relationship a successful ‘wedge policy’ of Iran (intentional policy to break up block or alliances) and analyzes that if the end goal was isolating Iran, then the isolation of Qatar was a mistake. It did not consolidate the anti-Iran coalition but under-cut it.