Washington Speaks with Two Voices on Qatar Crisis. Doha’s Elders Take Charge

Three weeks into the Gulf dispute sparked by the decision of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE to impose a trade, aviation and diplomatic boycott on Qatar, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson embarked on a mission as broker.
On Tuesday, June 26, he met in Washington with two distinguished Gulf visitors: Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar’s foreign minister, and Sheik Mohammad Abdullah Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs and Acting Minister of Information.
Tillerson had thrown his support behind Kuwait’s efforts to mediate the dispute, but was quickly discountenanced. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir declared that the only way out of the crisis was for Qatar to buckle under and accept the 13 conditions laid down by its four opponents.
The trouble is that Jubeir has the full backing of President Donald Trump and the Saudi strongman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
So where did that leave the secretary of state? Not very far. As DEBKA Weekly’s intelligence sources report from Washington, all the parties know that Qatar has flatly rejected every condition laid down in the secret negotiations brokered by the Americans and Kuwaitis.
Our sources can publish the specifics of the Qatari response for the first time:
1. Doha is willing to sever diplomatic ties with Iran (as demanded) provided all the Gulf nations follow suit and expel all 800,000 resident Iranian passport holders.
2. Doha will break up the Turkish military base going up in the emirate and throw out all the Turkish troops provided that the other GCC nations evacuate all foreign bases (US, French and British) on their soil..
3. Qatar denies any ties with terrorist organizations (as accused). No United Nations or any other international body has ever proclaimed the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. There are therefore no grounds for demanding its leaders’ deportation.
Doha presented a counter-list of organizations and individuals whose removal from Gulf nations is demanded. They include Yemeni Houthi insurgents, pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiite militias, Gen. Khalifa Hafter from Libya, and the Palestinian Mohammed Dahlan from Abu Dhabi.
This list appears designed as a counterweight to the demand to boot the Muslim Brotherhood television preacher, Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, out of Qatar.
4. Qatar’s actions are governed by its constitution – not by foreign dictates laid down by Gulf nations.
5. Its media (notably the Al-Jazeera TV station) are subject to the Qatari constitution and receive the same treatment as all other Arab publications operating out of the emirate, such as the Saudi Al Arabiyah TV channel.
6. Qatar does not meddle in the affairs of fellow Gulf emirates.
7. All demands for restitution payments to Gulf emirates are rejected.
8. Qatar meticulously upholds every clause of the agreements it signed in Riyadh in 2013 and 2014 with regard to Gulf security.
The beleaguered emirate is therefore offering a tough, uncompromising face to Secretary Tillerson’s effort to find a diplomatic way out of the Gulf crisis. This is partly accounted for, DEBKA Weekly’s sources report, by the fact that an older and tougher generation has taken charge of the crisis and removed it from the hands of the young crown prince, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. Running the show now are his father, ex-Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, whom he deposed, and mother Sheika Moza bin Naser Al Misned.
They have recalled their influential cousin, ex-prime minister Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani, from London, where he has been living since the young prince came to the throne, and asked him to steer the emirate through the crisis.
These tough-minded elders have no intention of being cowed into accepting their opponents’ demands, particularly since the boycott and blockade imposed on Qatar are not biting. The shelves in the shops of Doha are stacked with goods, some of which are donated by Iran and Turkey and handed out free of charge, in order to counter the punitive measures and bring them to naught.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email