The Qatar ultimatum

So Saudi Arabia et al issued an ultimatum to the sovereign country of Qatar (another dictatorial kleptocracy, like the others). I wanted to read those "13 points" the news media was reporting about, and got seriously annoyed that all those "I have failed in my choice of job" so-called "reporters" failed to tell their readers/viewers/listeners those 13 points. 
Seriously, sometimes we want facts raw, not watered-down as if journalism was homeopathy!

So I looked up one source that finally showed the list (in a properly summarised form), The Guardian. This should be self-evident - it's their job, so no extra thanks for that. Instead, shame on the others.

The 13 demands in full

  1. Curb diplomatic ties with Iran and close its diplomatic missions there. Expel members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and cut off any joint military cooperation with Iran. Only trade and commerce with Iran that complies with US and international sanctions will be permitted.
  2. Sever all ties to “terrorist organisations”, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, al-Qaida and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Formally declare those entities as terrorist groups.
  3. Shut down al-Jazeera and its affiliate stations.
  4. Shut down news outlets that Qatar funds, directly and indirectly, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed and Middle East Eye.
  5. Immediately terminate the Turkish military presence in Qatar and end any joint military cooperation with Turkey inside Qatar.
  6. Stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organisations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, the US and other countries.
  7. Hand over “terrorist figures” and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to their countries of origin. Freeze their assets, and provide any desired information about their residency, movements and finances.
  8. End interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs. Stop granting citizenship to wanted nationals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Revoke Qatari citizenship for existing nationals where such citizenship violates those countries’ laws.
  9. Stop all contacts with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Hand over all files detailing Qatar’s prior contacts with and support for those opposition groups.
  10. Pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other, financial losses caused by Qatar’s policies in recent years. The sum will be determined in coordination with Qatar.
  11. Consent to monthly audits for the first year after agreeing to the demands, then once per quarter during the second year. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.
  12. Align itself with the other Gulf and Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically, as well as on economic matters, in line with an agreement reached with Saudi Arabia in 2014.
  13. Agree to all the demands within 10 days of it being submitted to Qatar, or the list becomes invalid.
My suspicion when I heard the news was this: "I think they're using terrorism as a pretense for a shakedown of a smaller sovereign country, similar to 1914 and 2002/2003."

Now let's look at the list:

(1) Not about terrorism, but about an inter-Gulf pissing contest, or if you prefer that framework for interpretation, a struggle for regional (or clerical) hegemony.
(2) This is about the supposed ties with terrorism, more about that later.
(3) Outright attack on freedom of press / freedom of speech.
(4) Outright attack on freedom of press / freedom of speech as far as I can tell (I don't know those outlets).
(5) Hostile to a NATO country.
(6) Redundant with (2)
(7) The parentheses are in there for a reason. This demand appears to be primarily about apprehension of political dissidents; the Saudis et al want to incarcerate political opponents which includes but does not exclusively affect MB people. The demand - as wide as it is - is utterly against Western values since they did not demand  the hand over of obvious terrorists only.
(8) Every sovereign country can hand out citizenship to anyone, period. There's no legitimacy and no IL legality to such a demand. Saudi-Arabia is interfering in other countries' internal affairs, in part by bombing them. The hypocrisy is at level "U.S." here.
(9) Again, zero legitimacy or legality in hat demand. A sovereign country has the right to be in contact with foreign political factions.
(10) Sounds like utter B.S..
(11) Saudi Arabia et al have zero authority on such matters, and demanding such a one-sided surveillance regime is B.S.. The UNSC could fulfill such a role.
(12) This is essentially a demand to accept Saudi Arabian hegemony, an obvious attack of Qatari sovereignty.
(13) As written by a child, at best. At worst it shows this is an intentionally poison pilled list of demands that's meant as a prelude for invasion.

Now about the terrorism links: It appears that -publicly known since 2014- Qatar is indeed a safe haven for terrorism figures and terrorism-linked figures, as well as Qatar having funded a couple groups that some countries consider to be terrorist organisations. So that's not a complete fabrication.
The same could be said about the United States and certainly so about Saudi-Arabia, of course.

The proper way to go for Saudi Arabia concerning the terrorism link was to call the UNSC, argue, convince, get global sanctions enacted (there's little reason why any veto power should block them after they had flattered and cuddled with Trump). The sanctions could have escalated from financial to trade (not including food and medical supplies, of course).

So this list is a load of illegitimate and illegal demands that violate Qatari sovereignty.
The UNSC should be called to intervene and protect Qatari sovereignty ... wait, Trump already sold Qatari sovereignty for a PR stunt, and would block any useful UNSC resolution by the U.S.' UNSC veto power.

It is remarkable how closely and cynically Saudi Arabia applied the Austro-Hungarian and Neocon playbook of using terrorism as pretence to go after a sovereign and much weaker power.

Back in 1992-2002 we had an international order in which peaceful relations between countries had become the norm and aggressions had largely been frowned upon.
The end of the ideological Cold War conflict, the end of most colonialism (the South African Apartheid regime had given up), the example of 1990 in which a broad international coalition was formed to oppose a war of aggression with subsequent annexation of a sovereign country and the example of 1991 in which the aggression and annexation were reversed had built this international order. The pre-existing United Nations and international courts had finally become the central spot for addressing international disputes.

This order was damaged a couple times, but most importantly it was trashed by one of its key builders in 2003 with the war of aggression against Iraq. That was a grand strategic folly of global proportions. Afterwards, the recovered Russia(n Empire) became more audacious as well and disrespected the sovereignty of countries (and even its own guarantees) at will, pointing at the Western hypocrisy and using similarly obvious lies as pretenses and excuses.
This current crisis around Qatar shows that this aggressive behaviour has trickled down to regional powers. I expected Turkey to do such a thing next, but the Saudis were quicker.

Well, what should Europe do (we know the U.S. is pretty useless in this affair at this point)?
I personally think one could hardly be too harsh in the reaction. We should airlift supplies into Qatar through the airspace of Iran. We should call for the UNSC to discuss the crisis on its meeting on 27 June, to expose the uselessness of the U.S. in today's world if nothing else. Western (that is, European and Canadian) leaders should use strong words that clarify the nature of this extortion and reaffirm the sovereignty of Qatar. Western countries should also drop all reservations about hitting Saudi Arabia et al with sanctions for their sponsoring and tolerance of terrorism and terrorists.

On top of that, it would be welcome if the Turks airlifted a respectable army strength into Qatar, and European countries should help out with airlift capacities (both military and civilian). It's better to have a Turkish brigade equivalent in Qatar than an Iranian one.

Last, but not least:
To all countries who thought hosting U.S. troops or military installations would protect you against superior potential aggressors: 
You are fools!




  1. It's interesting to watch all these anti-neocon/neoliberals stand up to defend Qatar's honor.

    1. No-one seems to defend Qatar's "honor", you're making that up.

      It's about defending an international order that's not the rule of force.

    2. It is instructive to note that any objections to this obvious aggression are always phrased in terms of the USian power dialectic and never have anything to do with the rule of international law or international norms other than aggression.

  2. Scowcroft Lives26 June 2017 at 00:36

    The USian power dialectic and order are the same thing. Just look at the last 25 years of order.

  3. There is not much to add. Plain bully play against Qatar, demanding humilation at the not so subtly veiled point of sword...

    I have little sympathy for Qatar and the current Turkish leadership but I agree that a Turkish brigade could help to calm things down.