Qatar’s journey from siege to negotiation
Investigating the depth of the Gulf-Qatari disputes were not easy, especially as they were divided into several axes from political to economic, in addition to historical factors that weighed on the fragile reality experienced by the Gulf during the Arab revolutions that destabilized the regimes that were considered as the constants of the Middle East, whose entities have been in a state of stalemate since the emergence of nation-statesfollowingthe Sykes-Picot Agreement.
The interference of Western journalists raises suspicion in any issue in the Middle East, but at the same time it opens the appetite of officials to talk about their achievements and try to market their policies, as they view us as a bridge that will convey their image to the leaders
.and public opinion in the West.
And from the large amount of information that we have obtained from leaders, officials and actors in the political and security scene in the Gulf, and up to Turkey, we were able to access intersecting information, drawing a complete picture of the last chapter of the Gulf .dispute, which entered a stage of secret negotiations very sensitive and complex.
The dispute between the Gulf states and Qatar was based on the departure of that Gulf emirate (Qatar) from unanimity and it’s standing in the Iranian and Turkish squadron, in addition to the adoption of the Muslim Brotherhood and giving them media platforms and very generous support in various Arab countries.
And with the origin of the Arab Spring, the Qatari position was clear in supporting the revolutions in which Doha found a gate to expand its influence in the Arab world by enabling the Muslim Brotherhood to reach decision-making positions in countries where the winds of the revolutions hit. The Egyptian file was and still remains the most sensitive in the Gulf conflict with the U.A.E of Qatar.
The UAE has been the most extreme in confronting Doha’s policies and seeking to put down Arab revolutions and stabilize existing regimes.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman came to the right of UAE Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed in the face of Qatar’s Middle East agenda.
The alliance between the Untamed and exclusionary bin Salman and the ambitious Bin Zayed who aspires to major roles marked a new and qualitative leap in the series of Gulf relations with Doha, where the young Emir Hamad bin Tamim had not yet intensified in power.
Bin Salman with Bin Zayed made a dramatic decision to besiege the State of Qatar by land, sea and air,and after overriding all Gulf agreements and some international laws and customs, the blockade was applied to Qatar, which in the first days and weeks caused a great shock, before it took its breath and consolidated to go far beyond the effects of the Gulf strike and its repercussions.
The engineered siege by Bin Salman and his partner Bin Zayed was a baptism of fire for Prince Tamim, through which he was able to establish part of his legitimacy. The slogans which were saluting the young prince were held throughout Qatar under the title “Tamim Al Majd”.
With the help and supervision of his father, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa and former Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim, Tamim was able to emerge from the Gulf blockade more strongly or to be precise “less weaker” than it was when his father suddenly decided to retire and hand him over a country with great complications in its relations with the neighboring countries and the world and to play roles that were not easily absorbed by the young Tamim, where he has not been able to professionalize so far, which allowed him to be linked to the vision drawn by his father, and under his direct supervision.
More than two years after the announcement of the siege of Qatar on June 5, 2017, we can record the steadfastness of Doha in a coherent and strength as Bin Salman has suffered a series of pitfalls and serious mistakes that accompanied his career, from the moment of the arrest of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, through the the assassination of the prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi, to the circumstances of the Yemen war, which confused his ally bin Zayed on more than one occasion and station.
As the blockade of Qatar suddenly took place without introductions, negotiations were launched with it to resolve the issue without any apparent introductions as well. But the investigation into the background of these negotiations revealed to us the hidden elements that were completely absent related to the secrets of the Gulf relations, and Turkey’s current role and its strong influence in the course of events, as in the negotiations.
We have focused our efforts in this report to examine the biggest mystery of the Gulf crisis, and specifically the tense relationship between the UAE and Qatar, which in the past experienced positive developments, but quickly declined dramatically.
On this subject, a senior Qatari source told us that the development of the relationship with the UAE was based on a special political and personal relationship between Prince Tamim and the brother of the Crown Prince of the UAE, National Security Advisor, Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The relationship between the two men has been strong since Tamim was crown prince and continued with great momentum until late 2015, The source said that Sheikh Tahnoon complained about the failure of Qatar to keep promises made to him by Tamim, which embarrassed him more than once with the UAE leadership, The source stressed that Tamim was keen on the relationship, and was sincere with Tahnoon and strived to develop the relationship with the young Emirati leadership, but was unable to maintain that relationship, which gradually turned into rivalry and then to hostility.
The source did not tell us the reasons that toppled the close relationship that brought together Tamim and Tahnoon.
But other sources familiar with the details of this relationship revealed to us what was hidden in the words of the Qatari source, and pointed out that the young Emir of Qatar was sincere in his relationship with Tahnoon, and took enthusiasm to the point of making many promises with which he intended to implement, but decisive intervention from his father and Hamad bin Jasim, repeatedly stopped Tamim’s commitment to his promises, which embarrassed Tahnoon in front of his brothers, and as well as the UAE government, The UAE government was applying its obligations and waiting for Qatar’s commitments to no avail, and every time Tamim confirmed that minor obstacles prevented the implementation of what the two men agreed upon, Tahnoon is patient and tied to new promises, and then Tamim failed as usual to meet them.
Tahnoon was fiercely defending his friend, Tamim, until he got into disagreements with some family members.
Tamim’s relationship with Tahnoon remained strong and entangled, until something was not taken into account, when the UAE intelligence arrested a spy group belonging to Qatar, and found with them very highly sensitive and dangerous information.
The members of the group, according to the UAE, allegedly confessed to collecting information for the Islamic Republic of Iran. This was actually the detailed incident that destroyed Tahnoon’s relationship with Tamim, after the former felt betrayed.
Based on this, the year 2016 was crowded with differences between Qatar and the UAE, where the division has emerged significantly, and the political and media dispute over the countries of the Arab Spring and specifically Egypt has exploded in an unprecedented manner, and things have taken a violent nature, and the two sides fought battles in more than one Arab country.
Referring to the well-informed Gulf source, he assured us that Tamim was sincere in his relationship with the UAE, which he wanted to enter through its young leaders to a comprehensive normalization with the Gulf that opens for him and before Qatar a page of promising political and economic relations, but he clashed with the policy and strategies of his father, who still runs the rudder entirely behind the scenes, in constant communication and coordination with the Turkish leadership, which has considerable influence in the management of Qatar’s foreign policy.
The source talking about Hamad bin Khalifa’s relationship with Turkey was enough for us to
understand the depth of Turkish influence in the Qatari decision, and therefore in the Gulf crisis,
and after multiple attempts, we did not reach to any Turkish source who can explain to us the details and the nature of that relationship in Qatar.
However, Western and cross-Arab sources assured us of the existence of highly secret Turkish-Emirati negotiations. We found the tip of the thread that led us to the other side of the picture and explained its mysterious aspects.
After a thorough investigation, we were able to reach interesting details about the Turkish-UAE negotiations, which were launched about two months ago, between Sheikh Tahnoon and the head of the Turkish intelligence service, Hakan Fidan. The two men had three meetings in a European capital, which concluded in an agreement to open the door of Turkish investments in the UAE, to develop the UAE’s participation in the Turkish investment market and to promote and develop trade relations and exchanges.
It is known that the Turkish economy suffered greatly during the crisis with the Gulf, especially as the trade exchange with the UAE alone amounted to 17 billion dollars, and after the crisis fell to less than 7 billion, not to mention that the UAE was considered the first air carrier to Turkey (30% of all passengers transported to Turkey) More than 300,000 Turks visit the UAE every year, many of whom belong to the business and industrial class. It seems that there is a clear Turkish desire to restore the economic scene with Abu Dhabi and the Gulf to the former, to get out of the repercussions of the current crisis.
However, our sources confirmed that the UAE presented to Turkey at the last meeting a proposal which he said was “important and sensitive”. Hakan promised the UAE side to go back to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to get answers from him.
But the main question was always, how did things get between Turkey and Qatar to this important development?
Turkish and Gulf sources assured us that Istanbul was receiving detailed reports from Doha on the development of secret dialogue rounds with mediators and then with Saudi officials, and was waiting for the right moment to enter the path of direct negotiation, but the deep disagreement with Saudi Arabia on the issue of Khashoggi, and high demands set by Erdogan prevented the possibility of communication with Riyadh, and Turkey’s focus was on the UAE because it recognizes that Abu Dhabi is the most dynamic and most important player in the field of political and security conflict between Turkey and the Gulf.
Turkey decided to open the door of direct talks with the UAE, and after a series of messages carried by mediators, Abu Dhabi responded to the Turkish desire, and out of the political professionalism Bin Zayed decided to send his brother Tahnoon, who drew the line of relations with Qatar, in a clear message to Turkey that we are in a continuous context And we realize that the Turkish game in the Gulf was launched since they besieged Tamim and prevented him from developing an independent relationship with the UAE.
Turkey understood the subtleties of the UAE’s mission to assign Tahnoon and wanted to play on the table.
Speaking during the negotiations on behalf of Qatar, Hakan reiterated to the UAE side that any Gulf understanding with Doha only passes through Istanbul, and wanted to send a clear message to the UAE that any approach to the Gulf solution does not take into account Turkey’s interests and requirements would be doomed to failure and rejection by Doha.
On this clear basis, negotiations continue between the two parties and progress at an accelerated pace, and take a sophisticated and rapid one, so that it seems that Abu Dhabi negotiates on behalf of its allies , while Turkey negotiates on behalf of Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Reporting by : Eric Robin and Ryan Derman