What a speech, Emir of Qatar!


After I read about the “important speech” of Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Al-Thani last Friday, I tweeted my hopes for a wise stand, brave change of track and creative solutions to our dispute.

“For every step that Qatar takes in the right direction, a similar step must be taken by countries that have decided to isolate it. I proposed to begin lifting the ban on the movement of individuals,” tweeted Dr. Abdul Khaliq Abdullah, an Emirati professor. I enthusiastically agreed.

Our ultimate goal is to bring back a strayed family member, not punish them. We yearn for a happy home return and feel the pain of our Qatari brethren, unlike those who are feasting on our dispute. They pour gas on fire, and wish for it to last. It serves their agendas to have Qatar in their camp, as a financier, facilitator and a safe heaven. It doesn’t matter if it was at the expense of Qataris’ stability, security and wellbeing. Their interest and goals come first and above all.

In his speech, I hoped the young prince would use the opportunity to announce a departure from his father’s legacy that brought the promising emirate to such a predicament. I felt he would not risk all his country’s economic and civic achievements by crashing into an out-of-league heavyweight game. I wished he would realize how dangerous and evil the company they kept. But, alas, the speech came with none of the above.

At the same time, I could not ignore the fact that the decision was not his alone, and that the surrounding network of rulers and executors, allies and advisers, would not have allowed such departure. The strategies that were made over three decades would not be allowed to be reformed so easily and quickly. If the Emir had insisted on making such a change, he could be changed.

I presented my reading of the speech in the following tweets:

1. The Emir claims that our demands violate his country’s sovereignty. If so why did he agree to them in 2013 and 2014? Does sovereignty change with the model year?

2. Qatar has finally signed a security agreement with the United States, but still refuses to honor the agreements signed with us. Who and what comes first on the list of Qatari priorities?

3. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, as well as a dozen Arab countries, have been complaining for ages about Qatar’s interference in their affairs, support of violent opposition, financing of terrorist groups, doesn’t that count as a breach of sovereignty?

4. The Emir supports the Palestinians but without criticizing Israel, while his government builds Israeli settlements on Palestinian occupied lands, as a gift from Qatari people to their Israeli brethren. Go figure!

5. His Highness complains that our media is harsh on his government, still he regards his media furious attacks on Arab governments and leaders, calling for their overthrow (even killing) as free speech. One standard please!

6. The Emir believes the road to the solution of our issues goes via Washington, London, Berlin, Moscow, Istanbul and Islamabad. What a trip! Aren’t Gulf capitals much closer?

8. He describes the boycott as a suffocating siege, while thanking Iran, Turkey, Kuwait, Oman and the rest of the world for providing Qatar with all its needs — by air and sea. What about the siege!

9. You may not mix emotional speech, to lift up your people’s morals, with a rational message to political leaders and observers. It deprives the discourse of sovereignty, sophistication and logic. A separate sermon to each audience would have been more appropriate.

10. A good message should have a vision and a mission. If it doesn't bring a solution or achieve a goal, it serves no purpose. Another chance is lost to make a difference.

Still, we won’t give up. Too much is at the stake. We need Qatar as much as it needs us. We value our brothers and sisters there, and it pains us to see them suffer for decisions they didn’t make and policies they were never consulted about, but were made by autocratic leaders and foreign consultants.

Therefore, we must keep the pressure on and up, until the change is made, wrongs are righted, and misbehaving ceases. This is the best we could do for Qatar, our Arab family and world peace and security.

— Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi writer based in Jeddah. He can be reached at kbatarfi@gmail.com. Follow him at Twitter:@kbatarfi