We knew it was coming. An Arab League showdown on Tuesday turned into a shouting match involving allies turned bitter enemies Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates.
Currently Qatar is being boycotted by four other Arab states and the once strong Gulf Cooperation Council alliance (GCC) is in shambles. Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad al-Muraikhi immediately raised the boycott in his opening remarks though the dispute was supposed to be carefully avoided and wasn't on the agenda. He called Qatar's gulf enemies, especially Saudi Arabia, “rabid dogs”.
“Even the animals were not spared, you sent them out savagely,” Muraikhi said, referring to the fact that camels of Qatari farmers in Saudi Arabia were left to roam and die in the open desert along the border area between the two countries. The Emirati foreign minister countered, "Fifty-nine terrorists are residing and settled in Qatar or have ties to Qatar. A large number of them are named as terrorists by the Americans and another group are labelled terrorists by the European Union and a third group are labelled as terrorists by the United Nations. And yet another group are on the terror list of Arab countries."
"No! When I speak you be quiet!"
"No. When I speak you be quiet."— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) September 13, 2017
Things got heated between Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE at this week's Arab League meeting. pic.twitter.com/C4Lc8VwvdE
And Egypt joined the anti-Qatar pile on when it's foreign minister asserted, "We all know Qatar’s historic support for terrorism and what has been provided for extremist factions, and money in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Egypt that have lead to the death of many of Egypt’s sons."
Qatar has remained defiant throughout its unprecedented summer diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia and other GCC states which have brought immense pressure to bear on the tiny gas and oil rich monarchy through a complete economic and diplomatic blockade imposed by its neighbors. On June 5 Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt cut ties with Qatar in a dramatic move that resulted in a nearly complete boycott of the small country which encompassed air, land, and sea. Even commercial airline flight paths were diverted mid-air at the time, causing multiple major regional carriers to cancel future flights to Doha's Hamad International Airport. Aggressive economic sanctions followed, including food blockages - most of which had previously been supplied by land via Saudi Arabia.
While energy-rich Qatar has the highest per capita income in the world, its residents have faced a summer of empty supermarkets and long lines to get basic staples. Reports of extreme and creative ways Qataris have attempted to get around the blockade include an ongoing plan to fly thousands of dairy cows on Qatar Airways jets into the country.
In late August Qatar even went so far as to announce the restoration of diplomatic relations with Iran in a counter-move that was arguably its greatest act of defiance yet. The constant refrain of Qatar's former GCC allies is that Qatar has grown too close to Iran while sponsoring and funding terrorism. For the Sunni gulf states "funding terrorism" is really an empty euphemism meaning links to Iran and minority Shia movements on the Arab side of the gulf. Ironically, there is ample evidence demonstrating that both sides of the current gulf schism have in truth funded terror groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS, especially in Syria.
For now the world can just sit back and watch as the dirty laundry is aired and the GCC implodes after years of nearly all the gulf monarchies funding jihadist movements in places like Syria, Iraq, and Libya - as well as a scorched earth bombing campaign against impoverished Yemen.