With a population of around 2.6 million and with 88 per cent of those foreign workers, Qatar is one of the most high-income countries in the world. Backed by huge reserves of oil and natural gas, the tiny Arab Peninsula has been labelled by the United Nations as a country of very high human development, and will become the first Arab nation to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
In the past, Qatar played a significant part in the Arab Spring through both its financial power and its globally-influential news network Al Jazeera. But they now find themselves in a dispute with many of the nations in the Middle East. Six countries, among them the United Arab Emirates, have now cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, after Saudi Arabia accused the peninsula of collaborating with “Iranian-backed terrorist groups”.This is not the first time that nations from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have cut diplomatic relations with Qatar over terrorism concerns. Back in 2014, a similar dispute lasted around nine months, but the issues remained, and have risen to the surface once more.
In late May of this year, the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, reportedly gave a speech that criticised the United States and threw support behind the Islamist groups Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. A Qatar news agency then announced that they were withdrawing ambassadors from their neighbouring countries and allies, citing a “conspiracy” against the Arabian peninsula. Qatari officials quickly denied the reports, but tensions continued to rise, and have now reached fever pitch.Now, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt and Libya have announced that they are cutting ties with Qatar, and have given all Qatari nationals and residents a notice period in which to leave their territories. In an official statement, the Saudi state news agency SPA accused Qatar of working with “Iranian-backed terrorist groups”.“[Qatar] embraces multiple terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at disturbing stability in the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS (Islamic State) and al-Qaeda, and promotes the message and schemes of these groups through their media constantly.”
In response, Qatar has suspended all flights to Saudi Arabia until 02:59 on June 6, while the Qatari Foreign Ministry referred to the diplomatic dispute as a “campaign of incitement”, which is “based on lies that had reached the level of complete fabrications”.Iran have been at odds with Saudi Arabia for a long time, and the deputy chief of staff to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, Hamid Aboutalebi, thinks that this is “the preliminary result of the sword dance”, referring to US President Donald Trump’s recent visit to the Middle East, where he signed the largest weapons deal in history.