Qatar Crisis

  • Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen, Libya and UAE have suspended their diplomatic ties with Qatar.
  • All the six countries have announced that they would withdraw their diplomatic staff from Qatar and eject Qatar’s diplomats from their territories.
  • They have also planned to cut air and sea traffic.
Why these steps were taken?
  • Saudi Arabia has accused Qatar for embracing various terrorist and sectarian groups that are aimed at destabilizing the region such as the Muslim Brotherhood, al—Qaida, the Islamic State group and other groups supported by Iran.
  • Egypt has accused Qatar for supporting terrorist groups and taking an antagonist approach towards Egypt.
  • Bahrain has accused Qatar of media incitement, support for armed terrorist activities and funding linked to Iranian groups for its decision.
  • The decision has been taken after Qatar alleged that hackers took over state-run news agency’s website and published fake comments from its ruling emir about Iran and Israel. 
  • It had angered the Gulf Arab countries who responded by blocking Qatari-based media including Al-Jazeera.
  • Qatar has long been accused by its Arab neighbours over its support of Islamists.
  • On May 27, Qatar’s emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani had called Iranian President Hasan Rouhani to congratulate him on his re-election. 
  • This has also angered the Sunni Saudi Arabia which also sees Iran as its No. 1 enemy and a threat to regional stability.
  • Qatar also remains as a key financial patron of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
  • It has allowed the stay of exiled Hamas official Khaled Mashaal in its territories since 2012.
Has such steps been taken in past?
  • Yes, in 2014
  • Qatar’s supports the Sunni Islamist political group Muslim Brotherhood which has been outlawed by both Saudi Arabia and the UAE
  • This made Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in 2014 to recall their ambassadors from Qatar.
  • Only after eight months, the ties were normalised after Qatar forced some Brotherhood members to leave the country.
  • Oil prices have seen a jump after the six countries announced suspension of diplomatic ties with Qatar as it affected some of the world’s biggest oil and gas exporters.
  • Qatar, a gas rich nation, is also the biggest supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and a major seller of condensate (a low-density liquid fuel) and refining product derived from natural gas.
  • Qatar will be host to 2022 FIFA World Cup.
  • Saudi Arabia has announced that it would seal its land border with Qatar cutting off the country from the rest of the Arabian Peninsula.
Impact on USA:
  • Qatar is home to a major US military base, a sprawling al-Udeid Air Base, which is home to the US military’s Central Command hosting 10,000 troops. How this decision would affect American military operations is yet to be seen.
Impact on India:
  • Large number of Indian workers reside in these Arab nations. India can not take sides and will have to play diplomatically.
  • Huge remittance is received from these countries which is playing an important role in India’s Economy.
  • India also has robust defence and energy ties with Qatar. India is the third largest export destination for Qatar (behind Japan and South Korea) and ranks at 10th position for Qatar’s imports.
  • Qatar is the largest supplier of LNG to India, accounting for over 65% of India’s global import.
  • India also imports ethylene, propylene, ammonia, urea and polyethene from Qatar. Therefore, the balance of trade continues to be heavily in Qatar’s favour.
  • India also imports ethylene, propylene, ammonia, urea and polyethene from Qatar. Therefore, the balance of trade continues to be heavily in Qatar’s favour.
  • Qatar’s Sovereign Wealth Fund and other state-owned entities, as well as Qatari private investors, are looking at investment options in infrastructure in India, including in real estate, roads and highways, airports amd airlines, ports, LNG, petrochemicals and fertilizers, and tourism/hospitality.
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