Riyadh (GPA) – In a move reminiscent of the demands made of Serbia by the Austro-Hungarians on the eve of World War One, Saudi Arabia has issued a strict ultimatum to Qatar and given them 24 hours to comply.
The list of Saudi demands was allegedly sent to Doha earlier today and it is being reported that the Qataris have twenty four hours to comply. The ultimatum is composed of ten requirements for the Qatari government to immediately enact.
According to ‘Iran Front Page’ the demands made by the Saudis are as follows:
- Immediate severance of diplomatic relations with Iran.
- Expulsion of all members of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas from Qatar.
- Freezing all bank accounts of Hamas members and refraining from any deal with them.
- Expulsion of all Muslim Brotherhood members from Qatar.
- Expulsion of anti-[P]GCC elements.
- Ending support for ‘terrorist organisations’.
- Stopping interference in Egyptian affairs.
- Ceasing the broadcast of the Al Jazeera news channel.
- Apologising to all [Persian] Gulf governments for ‘abuses’ by Al Jazeera.
- Pledging that it (Qatar) will not carry out any actions that contradict the policies of the [P]GCC and adhering to its charter.
As you can see, these demands range from extremely hypocritical to logistically impossible, so let’s start from the top.
Diplomacy With Iran
It’ll be nearly impossible for Qatar to fully cut off relations with Iran. This is due to the fact that Iran and Qatar both share one of the largest natural gas reserves on earth.
Cutting off all cooperation with Iran could eventually deal a major blow to the Qatari economy or, even worse, could lead to hostilities between the two countries over future disagreements. The demand by the Saudis concerning Iran are clearly on the impossible end of the spectrum.
Ties to Hamas
Now let’s wade into the hypocritical demands of the ultimatum, starting with Qatar’s support for Hamas. While there’s no denying Qatar has offered support and shelter for Hamas, the Saudis are obviously guilty of the same thing.
Despite how you feel about Hamas, the Saudis have (at least in the past) provided material support to the militant group turned governing party in Gaza. If anything, this demand should be an embarrassment to the Saudis since Hamas’ primary adversary is Israel and they occasionally also have secondary conflicts with countries like Syria (who the Saudis also hate).
Many in the US establishment are cheering Trump’s efforts to restart negotiations between Israel and Palestine, not because a soft spot for Palestinians, but due to the aim of building stronger ties between the Gulf states and Israel without the Palestinian question hanging over everyone’s head. The question of the Muslim Brotherhood also loosely ties into this due to their ties with Hamas but it’s more likely the demands about the political party are more of a concern of Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt
The Muslim Brotherhood is a radical Sunni Islamist party that shares a lot of ideas with the gulf states like Saudi Arabia. The problem here is, the Brotherhood looks to enforce their bleak interpretation of Islam via the ballot box. It’s this electoral threat to royal succession that led Saudi Arabia to declare the political party a terrorist group.
This threat of replacing one tyranny with another was of course first observed in Egypt during the Arab Spring. Egypt’s current government under Sisi is the military coup that overthrew their democratically elected government which was primarily composed of none other than the Muslim Brotherhood.
While the Saudis don’t support the brotherhood due to their commitment to imaginary royal bloodlines, the Egyptian government’s hatred of the party is due to remnants of the group still organizing in Egypt. Ending Qatari support for the Brotherhood isn’t necessarily impossible or hypocritical but it’s clearly motivated by Saudi and Egyptian concern for self preservation. While the Brotherhood is by no means innocent either, it shouldn’t be a military junta or a Wahhabi kingdom that makes that call.
The other demands can be summed up fairly quickly so we’ll just lay those out real fast. First, the charge of ‘abuses of Al Jazeera’ are ridiculous. The Qatari network has always promoted the same agenda as the Saudis as the largest Gulf network to broadcast pro takfiri and anti western trash.
As far as the demands to make things right with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), this is another ridiculous demand since Qatar has always carried out similar agendas and funded the same terrorists. Also, since we’re on the topic of funding terrorists, the word without any specifics issued by Saudi Arabia is obviously laughable for reasons we don’t even need to explore again.
Now the question is: what happens if Qatar doesn’t comply? So far there’s no official word on what the Saudi response could be so we will continue following this story.