Qatar Emerging from Boycott
FILE – In this May 14, 2019, file photo, two people talk at the Corniche waterfront promenade in Doha, Qatar. Qataris awoke to a surprise blockade and boycott by Gulf Arab neighbors 3 1/2 years ago, and this week were jolted again by the sudden announcement that it was all over. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili, File)
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Qataris awoke to a surprise blockade and boycott by Gulf Arab neighbors 3 1/2 years ago, and this week were jolted again by the sudden announcement that it was all over.
The period in between was bitter, with mud-slinging by both sides and viscous media blitzes, social media trolling, expensive lobbying efforts in Washington, and allegations of hacks and leaks. Criticism of the boycott was a criminal offense in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt as the four sought to punish Qatar.
Qatar’s resolve in the face of the assault showed how little the campaign achieved as the small, but influential U.S. ally holds firm with its ties to Turkey, Iran and Islamists.
“In terms of foreign policy, the international relations of the blockade, Qatar didn’t have to change much because the blockade was on such shaky ground to start,” said Jocelyn Sage Mitchell, an assistant professor in residence at Northwestern University’s campus in Qatar.
She said the quartet’s efforts to internationally isolate Qatar failed. This, coupled with an incoming Biden administration in Washington that is expected to take a firmer stance toward Saudi Arabia and re-engage with Iran, put Qatar in a strong negotiating position.
“I don’t expect to see any concessions or changes of significance from Qatar,” Mitchell said. “Doha is actually used, and recognized, and welcomed for their ability to be the ally in the middle.”