Qatar crisis: One year on, what's changed?

Doha has grown closer to Tehran and Ankara as it looks to mitigate the economic impact of its isolation

In this May 4, 2018 photo, people fish in the early morning with the skyline in the background, in Doha, Qatar. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed diplomatic ties and cut air, ground and sea links to Qatar over its alleged support of terrorist groups and its warm relations with Iran. But Qatar’s massive natural gas reserves and close ties with other countries in the region have allowed it to weather the crisis, and daily life has gone on largely unchanged. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
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A year after the diplomatic rift that saw the quartet cut relations with Qatar over their support for terrorism it still does not appear that a solution is in sight.

In separate statements over the last few months, the foreign ministers of the four countries that have isolated Qatar have said they are willing to extend their boycott indefinitely.

Adel Al Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, said the standoff with Doha will continue until the leadership decides to make amends.

He stated his countries willingness to drag out the boycott in saying that his country will continue to apply pressure until Qatar changes.

“The ball is in their field,” he said in February.

As for Dr Anwar Gargash, UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, he has said the Qatar boycott could “last years.”


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Through this understanding, and Qatar’s unwillingness to adhere to the demands that it change its behaviour, both sides of the conflict have maintained a status quo which has led to consequences, some beneficial.

Bahrain, for example, claimed their rates of terrorist attacks dropped significantly since the boycott began.

Bahrain’s foreign minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed, said: “Out of all the Gulf countries, we have the most historical disagreements with Qatar, but we are always trying to convince the brothers the size of the problems we face.”

Meanwhile, Qatar has been forced to forge new trade routes and provide additional support to its local economy to combat the premium it has had to pay airlifting staples for its population after Saudi closed its land border.

Doha has not only developed closer ties with regional powers Iran and Turkey, but also neighbours Oman and Kuwait, who have acted as the mediators through the year-long crisis.

In doing so, Doha has further isolated itself from the Quartet. The two sides came close to a breakthrough in September, when Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim called Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to speak about the need for dialogue.

However, shortly afterwards, Saudi Arabia said it suspended its dialogue with Qatar over accusations that Doha distorted the facts about the call.

Washington, has been indecisive during the crisis. Former secretary of state Rex Tillerson was on the fence but called for a swift resolution for the sake of regional security, particularly in relation to Iran's influence. The diplomat was later fired by US president Donald Trump and replaced with Mike Pompeo.