Pan-Arab daily expects tough Saudi measures against Qatar over Gaza stance
Text of report by London-based Arabic e-newspaper Ra’y al-Yawm on 28 July
[Unattributed report: Saudi Arabia Is Preparing for Taking Escalatory Measures Against Qatar After the Id, and Prince Al-Faysal’s Attack on Doha and Accusing It of Antagonizing Egypt and Its Role in Supporting HAMAS and the War on Gaza Are a Prelude to an Imminent Conflagration."]
For the Gulf officials to exchange congratulations on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan and to call one another over the telephone on the occasion of the blessed Id al-Fitr, this is something that is within the framework of the norms and traditions that are usually followed, but for one of them to make a quick tour of the Gulf capitals 48 hours before the advent of Id al-Fitr, this is something unusual and indicates something that is highly important that cannot be delayed.
We are speaking here about the tour which Prince Muqrin Bin-Abd-al-Aziz, deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia and second deputy prime minister, has made to Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and the Sultanate of Oman and ended without visiting the State of Qatar, which is a Gulf country, something which means that this tour concerns it and the relations with it, and that the message which Prince Muqrin is carrying from the Saudi leaders deals with one of two main issues:
The First: Is that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and after the meeting which took place between Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin-Hamad Al Thani and the Saudi monarch King Abdallah Bin-Abd-al-Aziz in Jedda last Tuesday, has received guarantees and promises from its Gulf sister that stress the implementation of the Riyadh’s document signed last November and the articles in it that are related to the security and stability of the Gulf countries and not harming them, which subsequently means returning the ambassadors of three countries (Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain) to Doha.
The second: Is that the Saudi leadership has reached a firm conviction that the State of Qatar has not fulfilled its promises to which it was committed towards the implementation of the Riyadh document, something that requires taking other measures against it, which are greater than the step of the withdrawal of ambassadors, such as closing the airspace or the suspension of Qatar’s membership in the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The deadline of six months Saudi Arabia has given to the State of Qatar was due to end late in the month of Ramadan and by the end of Id-al-Fitr’s holiday, and perhaps this is the reason that made Prince Muqrin choose the timing of his Gulf tour carefully just two days before the Id.
Both possibilities are likely since the news that have been leaked about Prince Muqrin’s Gulf tour are very slight and the tour was carried out amid full secrecy, and all that has been said by the official news agencies was that “discussions dealt with the bilateral relations and the situation in the Gulf and the region.” However, it is clear that the second possibility, which is to take tougher measures against the State of Qatar, is probably the most likely one, and there are several indications in this respect:
First: Muqrin’s tour has excluded Doha, which indicates that Doha is targeted. Had the first possibility been likely, which is returning the ambassadors to it, it would not have been excluded, and every Gulf step from this or that side is intentional and indicates a message from this or that side, whether the way he was received, the team accompanying him, the identity of the prince who is receiving him at the airport and his job and hierarchical order in the family, or even the colour of cloak in some cases.
Second: The Saudi-Qatari relations are witnessing great tension these days against the backdrop of the disagreement between the two countries on the current regime in Egypt, the support for the Muslim Brotherhood, and the current war in Gaza. While the State of Qatar strongly supports HAMAS in this war and launches an initiative in parallel with the Egyptian initiative and makes great political and media efforts to stop the war, Saudi Arabia strongly supports the Egyptian initiative and accuses HAMAS of igniting this war with Qatari and Turkish support to implicate the ruling Egyptian regime and embarrass it on the Arab and international levels. An article by Prince Turki al-Faysal in the Saudi newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat on Saturday pointed out this fact when he “held HAMAS responsible for the repercussions of the massacres that are going on in Gaza as a result of its arrogance and the repetition of the past mistakes,” pointing out that “Qatar and Turkey are ! concerned with depriving Egypt of its leadership role more than preventing Israel from destroying Gaza.” He accused HAMAS and not Israel of being responsible for the war, which reminds of a similar Saudi charge to Hizballah during the Israeli aggression against Lebanon in 2006.
Third: The State of Qatar has not altered its supportive stand for the Muslim Brotherhood for even one millimeter, and continued its “unfriendly” stands towards the Egyptian regime. This has clearly been reflected in the coverage by Al-Jazeera of the developments of the situation in Egypt and the intensification of the charges of failure and betrayal by the Egyptian regime towards the Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip and of closing the Rafah crossing in face of the wounded and the relief teams even if such charges have been made by guests, experts, commentators, or Palestinian officials from HAMAS.
Fourth: The relations between Qatar and Iran, which are developing quickly, and the signing of defence agreements by the two countries, and the occurrence of a “change” in the Qatari stand towards the Syrian crisis, as well as the hegemony of the Saudi wing in the Syrian opposition and the Opposition Coalition in particular, and excluding those who are loyal to Qatar from the Political Body, the latest of whom is Prime Minister Ahmad Tu’mah during the leadership elections held in Istanbul one week ago.
Fifth: The gradual restoration of relations between the Lebanese Hizballah and the State of Qatar on a noteworthy pace. The observers have seriously noted that Al-Jazeera has broadcast the full speech which [Hizballah Secretary General] Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah delivered on Friday on the occasion of the International Jerusalem Day.
Therefore, we should expect surprise and important developments on the level of the Qatari relations with the Saudi, UAE, and Bahraini triangle by the end of Id al-Fitr holiday, which began in the Gulf states yesterday, and the only interpretation of Prince Muqrin’s tour, who has not made any similar tour since he was appointed in his post nearly one year ago, is that he wanted to inform all the Gulf leaders with whom he met of the details of the expected Saudi decisions.
It is clear that Saudi Arabia, and the same as has been said in the article of Prince Turki al-Faysal, has decided to launch a media war as a prelude to a political war against the State of Qatar, since Prince Al-Faysal cannot write an article that includes these serious charges to the State of Qatar without consulting on them with his leadership, and within the framework of a greater estrangement between the two countries that is going to happen.
Source: Ra’y al-Yawm, London, in Arabic 0000 gmt 28 Jul 14
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