Qatar has for the last three weeks been under a blockade from some of its neighbours for its ties with Iran and supposed support of terrorist organisations. #Saudi Arabia in conjunction with Bahrain, UAE, and Egypt have last week presented a list to Qatar containing 13 demands they should comply with. This should be done within 10 days or the olive branch becomes null and void.

But the question is, is this really an olive branch? Does it have all or most of the characteristics of an olive branch? Since it's come from pressure emancipating from the United States and the United Kingdom stating that a blockade without conditions does nothing to foster reconciliation, thus Saudi Arabia and its allies came back with the list.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Borris Johnson the UK foreign secretary appeared to criticise the scope of the Saudi ultimatum saying Gulf states should be "...measured and realistic" in their demands.

Experts believe this might just be the first step towards a most likely long road leading to reasonable terms between the Arab states and reconciliation.

Qatar blamed of supporting terrorists

In the second item on the list of demands, it requests Qatar sever all ties to "terrorist organisations" including the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic State group, Al-Qaeda, and Lebanon's Hezbollah, and formally declare those entities as terrorist groups.

Sixth on the list it states: stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organisations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, the United States, Canada and other countries.

Advertisements

Number seven on the list continues this way; hand over "terrorist figures" and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain to their countries of origin. Freeze their assets, and provide any desired information about their residency, movements, and finances.

As you can see terrorism is a real issue within the Arab states as it has been mentioned on three out of the 13 other items on the list. Not all of these are allegations, although some of them appear to be fabrications, however, there are some which have some truth behind them.

It's important to take into account that Turkey which has close ties with Qatar are both prominent supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is considered a terrorist group by Egypt and other Arab countries.

In an interview, an undisclosed #Al Jazeera employee told CNBC reporters that "None of the 9/11 terrorists was from Qatar. Fifteen came from Saudi, two from the UAE and one from Egypt. Qatar is more progressive; women can drive here."

Repercussions for citizens dealing with Qatar

Reports from CNBC say that in recent days the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have warned their citizens against showing sympathy for Qatar, with Abu Dhabi reportedly threatening prison sentences of up to 15 years.

Advertisements

Saudi Arabia plans to fine people who watch Al-Jazeera 10,000 Saudi riyals ($2,667), according to the Saudi commission for tourism and national heritage.

Qatar's options going forward

Qatar has been forging an independent foreign policy since the discovery of gas and a palace coup where the former Emir ousted his pro-Saudi leaning father.

Since 1995, the country has been in a construction boom that has been reshaping the desert state for the better. Qataris are the world's richest per capita ($130,000), while in Saudi Arabia - although it notably is much larger - has more than 35% of its citizens who live under the national poverty line.

"The State of Qatar recognises that a decision to close Al-Jazeera will infringe on their sovereignty," stated Wadah Khanfar President of Al Sharq Forum, an independent network dedicated to developing long-term strategies for political development, social justice and economic prosperity of the people of the Middle East.

Iran is already talking to the Turks and the Qataris — a move that could reshape cooperation in the Middle East. Russian President Vladimir Putin has already spoken to the Qatari Emir and would be eager to mediate, undermining the United States, despite Moscow being accused of hacking the Qatar News Agency website and planting a story that triggered the diplomatic crisis.

Qatar according to a report from CNN received the list on Friday. The director of Qatar's Government Communication Office, Sheikh Saif bin Ahmed Al-Thani, said the demands confirm what Qatar has said from the beginning: "The illegal siege has nothing to do with combating terrorism, (but) it is about limiting Qatar's sovereignty and outsourcing our foreign policy."

In addition, the Qatar News Agency said in an article on Friday "Qatar's National Human Rights Committee, NHRC noted that Qatar's acceptance of these demands and conditions would subject the country to international accountability and violate its obligations under human rights conventions. In this context, NHRC urged the state of Qatar not to accept those demands".

In 2014 the Gulf States lacked support from President Obama, but just after President Trump's recent visit to Saudi Arabia, they seem to have received support from the White House as the demands came momentarily after Trump's visit, according to Marwan Kabalan Doha Institute for Graduate Studies.

Al Jazeera targeted

This is not the first time Al Jazeera is being told to shut down, in 2014 there were demands from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries during the Gulf Confederations Council to shut down the station. The covering of sensitive and sometimes taboo subjects is often why Al Jazeera has been banned, and its journalists killed, attacked, expelled and jailed across the Middle East.

The shutdown demand is seen by some as a scare tactic, they don’t really want it to be closed as that is hard to achieve, their true agenda might be scaring them into choosing their words and their news more carefully.

According to Al Jazeera, the UN doesn’t want to enter into the negotiations right now so as to give Kuwait enough time to negotiate the peace agreement as this is an internal issue. There are approximately between 30,000-40,000 civil society activists, peaceful protesters in jail in Egypt because of the ideas they have not the threat they pose, this is according to Rami Khouri Non-resident senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School. #Mecca Saudi Arabia