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Today’s Tamim is not yesterday’s Tamim

Ahmed Al-Jarallah Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

TODAY – about three years after the start of the Gulf crisis, certain questions need answers in order to determine the benefits and losses.

To start with, we want to ask: Who is the victor in this boycott – the countries which boycotted Qatar or those boycotted by Qatar? Did these countries study what happened? Did Qatar take measures against its brotherly neighbors?

A political principle in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) states that “disputes and harmony do not last forever.” Based on this principle, it is safe to say all parties involved in the Gulf crisis must review matters.

Four countries boycotted Qatar for known reasons, which could be justified, especially during the two ‘Hamads’ era.

Some files are considered controversial; such as the support given to the Muslim Brotherhood Group, its freedom to launch its work from Doha, and its effort to strengthen relations with countries considered unfavorable to the welfare of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

Doha considers these controversial files a form of interference in its internal affairs and violation of its sovereignty.

Today – after nearly three years since the start of the GCC crisis, those who are fair see that many changes in the international scene, including the Qatari and regional changes, must be taken into consideration.

In Qatar, the influence of the two ‘Hamads’, Muslim Brotherhood and others on the political scene has either disappeared or weakened. The symphony of the two ‘Hamads’, their advisors, the Brotherhood and Yousef Al-Qardawi is no longer useful.

A neutral observer cannot overlook what is present in terms of the powerful and influential media in every corner of the world as someone appears in a debate to naively mislead others in a manner that no logic can accept.

The information media has been one of the strong weapons of nations. For instance in the United States of America; some newspapers, forums, and media outlets are stronger than the deadly weapons.

These information outlets defend their points of view; sometimes to the point of obscenity or they launch a counterattack on the truth in a bid to maneuver public opinion according to their whims.

Therefore, the media’s impact is destructive and negative if it is utilized incorrectly.

Through this example, I want to draw attention to an important issue – the need to talk about the effects of the crisis on Qatar economically and nutritionally. For example, the annual income of the Qatari citizen is considered one of the highest in the world – $158,000.

Also when some regional countries boycotted Qatar, they stopped exporting foodstuff to Doha. This prompted Doha to look for alternative food exporting countries – Turkey, Iran or other GCC countries – which stood neutral on this crisis.

When the boycotting countries stopped exporting milk to Qatar, the latter constructed a huge farming industry through which it imported 140,000 dairy cows. Currently, Qatar is exporting dairy products instead of buying them from outside.

Politically, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad won the support of many countries.

This happened at a time the United States distanced itself from this dispute, vowing not to put pressure on any party in dispute. This prompted Qatar to capitalize on the effect of the crisis. Perhaps, Qatar benefited financially from the boycotters more than the boycotters benefited from it.

When the crisis first erupted in 2014, Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad signed the famous agreement in the presence of the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, and His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad witnessed it.

On that day, UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed had a private talk with Sheikh Tamim. According to sources privy to that talk, Sheikh Mohammad told Sheikh Tamim: “Saudi Arabia is your cutting edge, and the country that supports you in adversity is your comfort.” Tamim went out and signed the agreement. However at the time, the Qatari decision was scattered and everybody knows what happened after that.

Also, sources said that after the phone call between Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad and Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman in September 2017, many things changed as every decision has been in favor of one side.

If we really wanted to take note of the stages of the crisis, we would have found that the crisis further empowered Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad. His decision became independent, and even in terms of supporting terrorism; the image is no longer the same as it was at the beginning of the crisis.

Here we are asking who benefited or who emerged victorious from this crisis. Qatar has not suffered up to the extent we presumed. On the contrary, Qatar forged strong relations with various countries. Its opinion is being heard, perhaps not the same way the boycotting countries are heard; but without a doubt, its presence cannot be overlooked.

Perhaps by reviewing matters, we will know the benefits and losses as we mentioned earlier. Perhaps, the coming days will put us in front of balanced relations, especially after Qatar rescued itself; making it different from how it was yesterday – stronger with us and the source of strength for all of us in the same way that we are its source of strength.

If things go on the right track and the Kuwaiti mediation succeeds in bridging gaps, Qatar will return to its Gulf brothers with several capabilities such as a remarkably strong media. Undoubtedly, the GCC countries will benefit from this media.

For Qatar to distance itself from the four boycotting countries was not an irrevocable divorce, it was just a stage or phase.

Qatar represented itself in all the GCC summits, especially the last summit held in Riyadh, where all the protocol preparations hinted that its Amir – Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad – would attend. This meant that efforts to resolve the crisis were at an advanced level.

It is not possible to stay isolated from Qatar, as human relations and intermarriage affirm such geographical reality. Sooner or later, matters will return to their natural course.

This approach concurs with the Emirati principle that “disputes and harmony do not last forever.”

Finally, His Highness the Amir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, today is different from what he was yesterday.

Many provocative stances faded in the Qatari political arena. Above everything else, Qatar remains an important player for us.

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah

Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

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