Belligerent Doha must mend its ways

The crisis can hardly be resolved within the next weeks without a real change in Qatar

A 2015 photo of Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, with Qatar's emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha. Yasin Bulbul / AP
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After days of simmering tensions between Qatar and other Arab and Gulf states, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, bluntly weighed into the dispute by expressing his desire for the disagreement to end within days. Turkey, of course, is Qatar’s close ally and has shown its willingness to come to Doha’s aid in recent days by plugging gaps in the Gulf state’s food and water supply chain that had been exposed after the UAE and others cut diplomatic and commercial ties.

The two states also share a common bond over Qatari investments in Turkey and, indeed, for their sympathies towards the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliated groups. They are bound together, if you like, in splendid isolation. Few other nations, none in this part of the Gulf, express such blind faith in a group, or other terror organisations for that matter, whose pernicious ways have only delivered harm and evil to peaceful societies.

Mr Erdogan’s sentiment is wildly misplaced. The Gulf has spoken, clearly setting the conditions for rapprochement with Qatar, but Doha appears unwilling to consider those terms. This was demonstrated, and even reinforced, by its recent pronouncement, saying that it would not “surrender”, rejecting any interference in its foreign policy.

By seeking support from Turkey, Doha risks prolonging the pain it is currently enduring. Ankara may be able to restock Qatar's supermarket shelves with food and water but it cannot repair the damage that Doha's stubbornness has already wreaked on its economy. Take, for instance, the travel blogger who visited Hamad International Airport shortly after economic ties were cut, who wrote that you could "hear a pin drop" in the empty corridors of its shiny, multibillion dollar new terminal. In other words, the gates of commerce are closed. Clearly, that is not a sustainable situation.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt do not desire any escalation of tensions, as Dr Anwar Gargash, the UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, made it clear on Thursday. The UAE also dedicated a hotline to support Emirati-Qatari families. But an end to the crisis will only be found when Qatar complies with the requests of its neighbours.

To date Qatar has only sought to burn bridges. For this crisis to end, it must start to build them too.