Key sto­ries from across the re­gion

Gulf Business - - CONTENTS - By Robert An­der­son

be­tween Qatar and its Gulf neigh­bours Saudi Ara­bia, Bahrain and the UAE showed no signs of abat­ing in June de­spite ef­forts to me­di­ate the dis­pute.

The three Gulf coun­tries, along with a grow­ing list of other Arab na­tions in­clud­ing Egypt, closed all air, sea and land links with Qatar on June 5 over the coun­try’s al­leged links to ter­ror­ist groups.

The mea­sures saw the clo­sure of the Saudi bor­der with Qatar and the chang­ing of ship­ping routes as ports banned ves­sels trav­el­ling to or from Qatar from dock­ing.

How­ever, ini­tial panic buy­ing by Qatari shop­pers was short lived as al­ter­na­tive sup­pli­ers from Turkey and Iran stepped in with dairy prod­ucts and fruits and veg­eta­bles to com­pen­sate for the overnight halt­ing of food im­ports from other coun­tries. Mean­while, Qatar-owned news chan­nel

Al Jazeera was taken off the air in the three Gulf coun­tries, ac­cess to Qatari news sites was shut off and pub­li­ca­tions and in­di­vid­u­als were warned that ex­press­ing sym­pa­thy for Qatar would be pun­ished with fines and jail time.

Among the busi­nesses hard­est hit by the re­stric­tions ini­tially was state-owned car­rier Qatar Air­ways, which along with all Qatari owned and reg­is­tered craft, was pre­vented from us­ing the airspace of its neigh­bours.

Cen­tre for Avi­a­tion es­ti­mates re­leased shortly af­ter the mea­sures sug­gested the car­rier was on av­er­age op­er­at­ing 25 flights per day to the UAE, 20 to Saudi Ara­bia and six to Bahrain prior to the sus­pen­sion.

In the ini­tial days af­ter the ban, the car­rier was forced to com­pen­sate pas­sen­gers af­fected by the flight can­cel­la­tions and ar­range for al­ter­na­tive trans­porta­tion as avi­a­tion au­thor­i­ties in Saudi Ara­bia, the UAE and Bahrain can­celled its li­censes and closed of­fices.

Qatar’s ef­forts to me­di­ate the dis­pute via UN avi­a­tion agency the In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion did not im­me­di­ately pro­duce re­sults, de­spite two days of tech­ni­cal talks leav­ing the car­rier to pur­sue other chan­nels in­clud­ing a YouTube ad cam­paign.

As the dis­pute con­tin­ued, var­i­ous coun­tries at­tempted to in­ter­vene to ne­go­ti­ate a set­tle­ment or take a side.

Turkey’s par­lia­ment fast-tracked leg­is­la­tion to al­low Turk­ish troops to be de­ployed to a base in Qatar on June 7.

Else­where, there were mixed mes­sages from the US, where Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ini­tially ap­peared to voice sup­port for the iso­la­tion­ist mea­sures by Saudi Ara­bia, the UAE and Bahrain in mes­sages on Twit­ter.

“They said they would take a hard line on fund­ing ex­trem­ism, and all ref­er­ence was point­ing to Qatar. Per­haps this will be the be­gin­ning of the end to the hor­ror of terrorism!” Trump wrote af­ter the diplo­matic rift be­gan.

Qatar it­self did not ap­pear dis­suaded by his words – even if it did seem­ingly re­ject his of­fer to help ne­go­ti­ate an end to the crisis – and signed a pre­vi­ously agreed $ 12bn deal to buy 36 US F-15 fighter jets.

Sep­a­rately, US sec­re­tary of state Rex Tiller­son ap­peared to take a more neu­tral tone, can­celling a trip to Mex­ico as part of ef­forts to end the feud.

Amid th­ese ef­forts, ambassadors, min­is­ters and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the re­gion pos­tured through in­ter­views with West­ern news chan­nels and opinion pieces in news­pa­pers.

The UAE’s am­bas­sador to Wash­ing­ton, Yousef Al Otaiba, wrote in the

Wall Street Journal that West­ern coun­tries should not al­low Qatar to in­vest in land­marks like New York’s Em­pire State Build­ing and Lon­don’s Shard while us­ing the prof­its to fund ter­ror groups such as Al Qaeda.

De­spite the rhetoric, Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al- Ah­mad Al- Jaber AlSabah ex­pressed his hope that the crisis could be re­solved through di­a­logue.

In a tele­vised speech mark­ing Ra­madan on June 18, the ruler said he hoped the re­main­ing days of the Mus­lim holy month would cre­ate “the at­mos­phere for re­solv­ing un­for­tu­nate dif­fer­ences and end­ing the rift through di­a­logue and com­mu­ni­ca­tion” in the Gulf.

But as June came to an end there was lit­tle sign his wishes would come to pass, with some com­men­ta­tors sug­gest­ing it could be months or even years be­fore a res­o­lu­tion was reached.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.