Qatar Crisis And Muslims’ Responsibility – OpEd
From the second half of the 19th Century onwards, the Muslim world has been wallowing in a pit of dissension and tumult. For the last 150 years, North Africa, the Middle East and the Near Eastern regions have been ravaged by myriad revolutions, civil wars, conflicts and invasions. Regardless of age or gender, millions of Muslims have been martyred in this environment of violence while millions more have tried to hold onto life in exile, refugee camps, devastated cities or derelict houses.
In this dark period, from Arabs, Kurds, Barbaries Turks, and Turkmens to Azerbaijanis, Afghanis, Iranians and Pakistanis, countless innocent people of all nations have lost their lives in conflicts between brothers. In the second half of the 20th Century alone, over 10 million Muslims were martyred by bullets fired from the guns of other Muslims. While the Muslim world was deeply grieving their lost, the orchestrators of these evils grew richer and politically stronger, allowing them to extend their influence over Muslims
At the turn of the 21st Century, terrorism has fueled the already raging flames of tumult further. Muslims are now routinely bombing mosques in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Egypt and Libya; suicide bombers are wreaking carnage in marketplaces, bazaars, schools, hospitals and streets. A fog of tumult and dissension, the like of which has never been seen in the 1,400 years of Islamic history, has descended upon the entire Muslim community. The Muslim world is suffering from an acute case of lack of foresight. Politicians, state and military officials, intellectuals, opinion and religious leaders are dragging their feet in stifling the tumult. Summits convening with the mission of peace are proving fruitless.
The pleas of aggrieved Muslims are drowned out amidst the uproar of dissension. On the other hand, the fire raging in the Muslim community grows bigger with every passing day, engulfing more and more Muslims in its blazing flames and carving out a permanent place in the Islamic world.
Today, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan are beset with civil strife, while terrorism has become a part of daily life in Egypt, Lebanon, Pakistan and Algiers. Palestine stands divided in two.
The Western media features new maps every day that display a divided Iran and Saudi Arabia. In such a turbulent climate, Muslims are obliged to give precedence to their commonalities rather than their differences and promote unity instead of conflict. The Arabian Peninsula is already beset by dissent in the west, north and south. As of late, another step has been taken to drag its eastern region into chaos as well.
With Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Libya and Maldives on one side and Qatar on the other, a new division is being incited among the countries of the region.
The fuse of the latest fire was lit prior to Eid al-Fitr by seven countries’ boycott of Qatar. Qatar was urged to close down its embassies, while Qatari citizens were asked to leave these countries. The Saudi border, Qatar’s only land connection, was closed, a decision that prevented food and emergency aid from being delivered to the country. These severe sanctions were followed by an ultimatum requesting the fulfillment of a list of heavy demands. Among the demands were conditions such as the shutdown of Qatar-based media organizations and the discontinuation of military alliances that no sovereign state would ever agree to. At the end of the ten days given to Qatar to comply with the demands, the country responded by flatly rejecting the ultimatum. The meeting in Cairo did not change anything; Saudi Foreign Minister declared that the sanction will continue until the Qatar administration meet the demands.
These developments may spell a raising of the tensions and open the door to the possibility of military activity that could engulf the west of the Arabian Peninsula and Iran on the other shore of the gulf. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates, the countries imposing the boycott, are Sunni countries neighboring the Persian Gulf and on the other side of the Gulf lies Shiite Iran.
Likewise, on the northern coast of the Gulf lies Iraq’s Shiite-predominant region, Basra. It is impossible to make predictions about the potential consequences of an escalating Sunni-Shiite tension in the region.
Furthermore, the Gulf region sits on two-thirds of the global oil reserves and one- third of the world’s natural gas reserves: The Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf’s sole passage to the open ocean, is also the only gateway for Kuwaiti, Iraqi, Iranian, Saudi Arabian, Bahraini, Emirati and Qatari oil exports. 40% of the global oil trade passes through the Strait of Hormuz. This route coming under threat will also lead to the involvement of the international community in the crisis. Today, the Mediterranean has virtually become a naval war zone. The Persian Gulf similarly brimming with aircraft carriers, destroyers, sea-to-land missiles or warplanes will bring the region one step closer to an all-out-war. It is impossible to even imagine what this war might culminate in.
The aggrieved Muslims are once again the victims of the crisis sparked at the end of Ramadan. Qatari citizens being deported from their countries of residence have left many families facing risk of separation. The regional economy is experiencing a rapid collapse while Muslims are growing poorer for no reason. Above all, a sense of discontent and unease is settling in the region due to the atmosphere of uncertainty brought about by the crisis.
Today, those who profit from the ongoing tensions are by no means Muslims. On the contrary, this situation will create further schisms in the Islamic world, which will only serve the ends of certain power groups. Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey, Iran and Oman have not gone along with the boycott on Qatar, preferring to remain impartial in the region. However, remaining silent is not enough.
In this sense, Turkey and Kuwait’s conciliatory efforts are of paramount importance; the rest of the countries in the region too must absolutely partake in this effort. While His Highness Sheik Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Emir of Kuwait, stated that it is “an indispensable duty” to resolve the disputes between the Gulf States, Turkey stepped in right after the onset of the crisis by conducting the necessary diplomatic negotiations and sending food to Qatar, preventing the humanitarian and political dimensions of the crisis from growing worse.
Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti Minister of Foreign Affairs, called for dialogue in resolving the crisis, stressing that the disputes between Muslims should definitely be tackled in unity and “under the Gulf umbrella”, in other words, among themselves. Al-Sabah’s words “Our brothers in Qatar are ready to understand the reality of the qualms and concerns of their brothers and to heed the noble endeavors to enhance security and stability,” in an effort to mediate between the two sides is truly commendable. It is crucial that the Turkish and Kuwaiti governments realize a major Islamic sign by playing a reconciliatory role in the crisis.
This is a behavior that should be supported, appreciated and prayed for its success.
Muslims can usher in an era of peace and serenity in the world only by maintaining friendly relations and joining their forces, not by provoking hostility against each other. Above all, by doing so, they will be fulfilling their Qur’anic obligations. Separation among Muslims is nothing but a trap, and falling into that trap has always cost Muslims dearly and has always resulted in violence and bloodshed. The Muslim community should realize that they are being lured into a trap, and seek out ways to achieve unity, not dissolution.
(Author Harun Yahya has authored more than 300 books translated into 73 languages on politics, religion and science. He tweets @harun_yahya.)
(Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani Discuss Bilateral Relations. Source: Saudi Press Agency)