Gulf States v Qatar: Isaias In the Middle

General Sisi’s overthrow of Mohammed Mursi’s government in Egypt has re-aligned Arab politics with many Gulf States in support of Sisi, while Qatar is fiercely opposed.  Consequently, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirate (UAE) and Bahrain have withdrawn their ambassadors from Doha, Qatar.  In the middle, manipulating or being manipulated, is Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki.

The three Gulf States have poured millions of dollars to stabilize the new regime in Egypt, while Qatar has maintained its tough stance.

Attempts by other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), to resolve the differences between the Qatar, on one hand, and Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain on the other, have failed.  Kuwait and Oman have not joined the other GCC countries in withdrawing their ambassadors.

Qatar has indicated it will not reciprocate by pulling its ambassadors from any of the three countries. But observers believe if this crisis is not resolved, Saudi Arabia might take other stringent measures such as banning Qatar from using its airspace.

For a few weeks, the Saudi Foreign Minister has been shuttling between the Gulf States to find a common position against Qatar, which Saudi Arabia accuses of violating the non-interference clause of the GCC. He was not successful.

At the same time, Qatar claims its position regarding Egypt and Syria is not a GCC issue but an external matter.

Among the accusations leveled against Qatar by the three Gulf countries is that Qatar has become an emboldening center for Islamists whom Qatar supports by providing media airtime, and logistical support.

Qatar is also accused of supporting the Huothi rebellion in North Yemen, an area bordering Saudi Arabia, a charge which has also been leveled against the regime of Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki.

The visit of Isaias Afwerki to Qatar on Saturday comes amid unprecedented diplomatic chaos among the Gulf Countries.

Isaias has asked Qatar for financial support because Eritrea is going through serious shortage of hard currency.  Meanwhile, Eritrea is also being courted by Egypt as an ally in a possible Nile showdown between Egypt and Ethiopia.


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