Qatar weans itself off its Gulf dependence
QATAR is defiantly weathering a boycott by four of its neighbours in a deepening crisis that has roiled the region.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt severed ties and imposed an economic blockade on Qatar in early June, accusing it of backing terrorism. Qatar has denied the allegations.
Two months into the isolation campaign, the energy-rich Persian Gulf nation has used its billions to strengthen its economy and security. It has announced reforms and bolstered ties with Turkey and Iran that could potentially reshape the region and its alliances for years. The crisis is acrimoniously playing out in diplomatic venues.
“It’s now personal, which in some ways makes it more difficult to find a way for both sides to step down,” said Perry Cammack, a Middle East analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The bloc, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, has long been at odds with Qatar over its ties to Iran and support for the Muslim Brotherhood, a moderate Islamist group that governments of the bloc view as a threat to their rule. The countries pulled out their ambassadors, ordered citizens to leave Qatar, closed their borders, and shut air and sea routes to Qatari flights and vessels.
In June, the bloc made 13 demands of Qatar, including that it slash ties with Iran, sever links with the Muslim Brotherhood, expel several Islamists and make reparation payments. The bloc has demanded that Qatar close Al Jazeera, a Doha-funded media network that has covered the region’s governments critically.
Qatari officials dismissed the demands as “neither actionable or reasonable”.
Instead, Qatar has sought to diversify its economy and wean itself off its dependence on its Gulf neighbours for food and other supplies. Food from Saudi Arabia and the UAE that once filled supermarkets has been replaced by products from Turkey and Iran. One businessman has started importing 4 000 cows to produce milk. The Washington Post
Turkish and Qatar soldiers meet before a military exercise in Qatar on Sunday. In June, Turkey announced the deployment of hundreds of troops to a base near Doha.