However, the four Arab adversaries have decided to step up pressure on Qatar through a set of demands that Doha must before its “rehabilitation” could be allowed – in other words, the karama of the ruling Thani family could be restored, only if the besieged emirate meet these conditions. The demands – handed over to Qatar through Kuwait, another GCC state which is serving as mediator – are that the country close Al-Jazeera television, reduce ties with Iran, shut a Turkish military base (Ankara rushed through a parliamentary resolution to send more troops there), stop interfering in the four nations’ domestic and foreign affairs, refrain from giving Qatari nationality to their citizens and pay reparations for any damages or costs incurred due to Qatari policies, The demands are so far-reaching it would be hard for Doha to comply with them. Their 13-point list of demands is touted to be aimed at dismantling their neighbour’s decades-old interventionist foreign policy that played one of the most critical roles in the ouster of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Moammar Qadhafi of Libya and Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen, during the tumultuous days of the Arab Spring that also caused the ouster of Tunisia’s Zainal Abedin Ben Ali soon after its outbreak. The Arab Spring also created a huge political upheaval in Shia-majority Bahrain. The Khalifa dynasty of this Arab island state, however, survived this challenge to its rule mainly through the military intervention of the Saudi-led GCC troops. There is little or no doubt about the fact that Qatar is home to many Muslim Brotherhood members wanted by both Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The great televangelist Yousuf Qardawi, for example, is one of such “wanted” persons, particularly by Egypt. From the perspective of the four states, Qardawi, like Al-Jazeera, is causing instability and promoting sectarian tensions in the Arab world through broadcasts from Doha. Qatar has dismissed the demands as neither reasonable nor actionable. Insofar as the Qatar-Iran relationship is concerned, it is premised largely on economic imperatives, including joint sharing of the world’s single largest South Pars gas field. Qatar is also accused of hosting Iran’s Revolutionary Guards-a charge which, like the other accusations, Doha vehemently denies.
The four states’ ultimatum seems only to have added to this complex crisis, the resolution of which seems to be beyond the capacity of Kuwait. The situation, therefore, underscores the need for a standpoint or area midway between extreme or opposing positions, options, or objectives. The situation also constitutes a greater test of the US that has the largest military presence in the Middle East to help defuse growing tensions in the region by articulating a strategy through which it could seek to transform the four states’ seemingly uncompromising demands into a realistic approach to the resolution of the current Gulf standoff. If that requires exerting pressure on Doha to revisit its foreign policy in relation to its neighbours for greater stability and prosperity in the region then so be it.