Written by Duncan Howell (News Writer)
After multiple years of a Saudi ban of any Qatar vehicle, land, air, and sea in their airspace and coastal territories, Saudi Arabia is now planning to lift these travel restrictions. In June of 2017, the Qatar government had come under fire. Significant evidence showed that Qatar had been funding and supporting small Islamic terrorist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatar denied any involvement with militant groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS, though did not provide evidence in their defense.
As a result, Saudia Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain banned Qatar from their land borders, coastal waters/sea routes, and their airspace. As a result, large quantities of supplies were blocked from entering Qatar and well as Qatari exports. In exchange for removing the blockade and sanctions, Saudia Arabia demanded that Qatar was to seize military activities with Turkey as well as greatly reduce any relations and trade with Iran. After refusing the Saudi terms, the blockade and closed borders remained in place, starving the Qatari government of resources.
However, on January 7th, the government of Qatar finally agreed to set up negotiations. As of now, bad relations and tension between Qatar and have begun to thaw. As the Saudi restrictions begin to roll back, it is a small, but significant step forward toward peace on the Saudi Peninsula.
Though Saudi Arabia has started to open its land borders with and airspace to Qatar, the Qatari government still hasn’t officially guaranteed that it will actually change its policy. While the negotiations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar marks a milestone for resolving the tensions of the gulf crisis, the political chasm between the countries of the Saudi Peninsula is far from over. On the eve of the summit between Saudia Arabia and Qatar, Saudia Arabia started the reopening of its border with Qatar. While the summit between the two countries made the exact terms of the politician exchange have been set in stone, there still some concern with Qatar. As the Qatari government has not officially accepted the terms of the agreement. Some government officials are concerned that Qatar may be attempting to keep trade restrictions off of themselves as long as possible and delay the application of the new policies. This could benefit the Qatari government by allowing them to get large amounts of trading done while the blockade is lifted.
If Qatar were not to honor the conditions of this agreement, the government would keep its old policies and take advantage of the opening of trade routes and open borders as long as possible. Though this scenario may be unlikely, it still very well could happen. Assuming that the negotiations do go through and Qatar honors their side of the agreement, geopolitics experts hope for this to be an event that starts a chain of negotiations and treaties, easing the tensions and wars going on in the Saudi Peninsula.
For Qatar, accepting the terms of the negotiations and changing their policies may actually be a large improvement for the people of Qatar. Due to Qatar having some of the largest oil reserves in the world as well as one of the highest GDPs per capita in the world. If Qatar is once again allowed to trade with many of its neighboring countries which previously had sanctions on them, it could be a major boost for their economy. As of now experts in the field of politics hope for sanctions to be lifted, hopefully starting a chain of peace negotiations in the Middle East.