Qatari Diplomatic Crisis

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain and the Maldives have suspended their diplomatic relationship with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism.

What are the reasons?

Saudi Arabia has accused Qatar for supporting various terrorist groups like that of the Muslim brotherhood, al-Qaida, and other Iran supported groups, all of which works towards destabilizing the region.

Egypt has accused Qatar for supporting terrorist groups and adopting an antagonist approach towards it.

Bahrain has accused Qatar for supporting armed terrorist activities and funding terrorist groups linked to Iran.

For long, Qatar has been criticised by its Arab neighbours for supporting Sunni Islamist political group, the Muslim brotherhood, which has been outlawed by both Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Also, recently Qatar’s emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani had called Iranian President Hasan Rouhani to congratulate him on his re-election. This has also angered the Saudi Arabia led Sunni countries.

Qatar also remains as a key financial patron to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

What are the conditions put forward by Qatar’s neighbours? What is the response of Qatar?

To normalise ties with Qatar, the Arab countries had put a 13-points demand list. Some of the important demands are:

  • Sever diplomatic ties with Iran and shut down its diplomatic missions.
  • Stop funding of terrorist and separatist organizations designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, the United States and other countries.
  • Shut down Qatar funded news outlets like Al Jazeera.
  • Close down the Turkish military base.
  • Stop interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.
  • Coordinate and align with other Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically.

Oil prices have witnessed a jump after the Arab countries suspended their diplomatic ties with Qatar. Qatar is a gas rich nation. It is the biggest supplier of liquefied natural Gas (LNG) and a major seller of condensate (a low density liquid fuel), and refining product derived from natural gas.

Qatar is home to a major US military base, al-Udeid Air base, which is home to US military’s Central Command hosting 10,000 troops. The air base is used for the US-led fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.  So, the prolonged attempt to isolate Qatar may be counterproductive in the fight against the IS.

For India, peace and stability of Gulf region is important for many reasons. Hence, it has asked the stakeholders to resolve the crisis through constructive dialogue based on the principles of mutual respect. Around 8 million Indians are estimated to live in Qatar. In fact, Indians are the largest expatriate community in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Indian diaspora living in the region are sending back around USD 40 billion every year in the form of remittances, which are very helpful for India to manage its current account deficit. In terms of energy security, India is the second largest buyer of LNG from Qatar. India has signed a long term deal for importing 8.5 million tonnes of LNG from Doha every year. So, peace and stability in the Gulf region is paramount for India.