Qatar is in a bit of trouble.
News has broken in the middle east on Monday that has a serious impact upon Qatar, it’s people and it’s future.
Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirate, Egypt, Bahrain and even Libya and the Maldives have all cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in the last 48 hours and issued advice to its citizens to leave the country as ambassadors are being withdrawn and embassies closed.
The move, which is a sudden change in the Middle East, was taken with accusations that Qatar is supporting terrorism and allowing terrorism financers and those that raise money for terror organisations to operate within their boarders. Terrorism financing has been a big issue in the Middle East and whilst financing of terrorism is punishable by death in Qatar, it is generally not enforced and there are questions regarding whether or not the government itself has been supplying military grade weapons to extremist groups.
Whilst Qatar has denied this allegation and has hit back at it saying that the allegations aren’t true. The Qatari foreign minister has asked for a dialogue of openness and honesty in light of this escalating situation. However while this is a sudden move by these governments, it isn’t out of the blue with tensions between Qatar and neighbouring countries building for years and hitting breaking point in the last few weeks.
In line with this move, diplomats from Qatar have been told they have 48 hours to leave the countries and Qatari citizens that are currently travelling in the countries that have cut ties have been told they have 14 days to leave the countries as they are no longer welcome. However apart from Qatari citizens and diplomats being asked to leave these countries, new problems have cropped up that could cause more issues.
Qatar Airways, a popular airline operating out of Doha, has faced issues with this new ban with its existing air routes. The airline has been affected by the ban when the air spaces of the countries instituting the ban have been closed off to the airline and the airline not allowed to land in any of the countries as well. This has caused the airline to issue a warning to customers that this will effect their travel and may require them to rebook their flights with other airlines as they will not be able to service these flights. Additionally, Qatar Airways has had to divert its flights over Somali air space in order for them to get to Qatar without intruding on the newly restricted air space.
In a country that is reliant on the importation of food and other essentials, the ban has really shaken the country. Qatari citizens have begun to stock pile all the essentials and are uncertain when the ban could be lifted. Al Jazerra has also been affected with their local office in Saudi Arabia been closed down and their 24 hour news channel already been blocked for two weeks now in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE.
Analysts are saying that Qatar’s exports – dominated by oil and gas – should not be affected as they are exported by sea however the issue is around imports and if this dispute continues there would be general economic disruptions which could affect the importation of goods as well as tourism. Qatar is a member of OPEC as well and the ban could see Qatar unwilling to adopt any of the measures instituted by OPEC. Oil and gas may be pushed higher due to the ban however analysts suggest this may only be temporarily.
With Qatar set to host the football World Cup in 2022, the government has said that the decision won’t affect the normal lives of its citizens (even though evidence is suggesting otherwise) and has suffered a 7.27% drop in their stock market, there may be no end in sight in the short term to this ban.
Iran, Turkey and even the United States has asked all sides to resolve this peacefully with even Sudan saying that they are ready to assist in the best interest of everyone in the region.
In the mean time, everyone seems to be ready for this ban to continue for the short term with hopes that this may change soon and may analysts interpreting this as the largest political crisis in the middle east for years.