Qatar. Tough sanctions and diplomatic crisis hit the country. According to the countries that sanctioned the country from the beginning of the summer, Qatar is funding extremism and terrorism. The country’s emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, among other things, must have said that he supported Hamas and Hizbullah and made a critical statement against US President Donald Trump. According to Countryaah.com, almost two weeks before the sanctions began, Qatar stated that the state news agency had been hacked and that it was fake news that had been published. Just days after the sanctions began, CNN reported that US investigators suspected that Russian hackers had attacked Qatar’s state news agency and planted the false allegations. However, on July 17, The Washington Post reported via US intelligence sources that the United Arab Emirates was behind the hacker attack.
True or false, the June 5 sanctions against Qatar started. Bahrain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, later also Jordan, accused the country of supporting terrorism. Some of the countries gave Qatar’s diplomats 48 hours to close their offices. Flights to Qatar were stopped. The news agency al-Jazira’s office was closed in a couple of countries. Several banks stopped transactions to and from Qatari banks. The flight stop hit Hamad International Airport in the capital Doha very hard. The airport is one of the most important hubs in the Middle East with 40 million travelers annually.
Among the demands (at least 13) directed against Qatar for the sanctions to be lifted was that the country closes the TV channel al-Jazira as well as a Turkish military base and stops its contacts with Iran as well as with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Qatar refused to surrender, but on July 11, it agreed to sign an agreement saying that the country should fight terrorism.
In October, Dubai’s security chief Dhani Khalfan stated that “if the [football] World Cup disappears from Qatar, the crisis in Qatar will end because the crisis was created to do just that”. It was the first time that the World Cup in Qatar 2022 was mentioned in this context. At the beginning of the year, Qatar’s Finance Minister Ali al-Emadi had calculated that the spectacle would receive a final note of the equivalent of over $ 200 billion – the Soccer World Cup in Brazil cost only half as much. He also calculated that the country spends the equivalent of SEK 4.5 billion a week on infrastructure linked to the World Cup. But the country can afford; Qatar is the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas and also the world’s richest country.
Even at the end of the year, no solution to the Qatar conflict seemed to be in sight. The five Gulf states’ sanctions against the country are affecting the entire region – not just Qatar – and, as Kuwait’s emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad warns, perhaps the entire OPEC cooperation.
In December, French President Emmanuel Macron came on a state visit. The result was that Qatar bought 12 fighter aircraft (by Dassault’s model Rafale) and that Qatar Airways bought 50 civil aircraft (by Airbus) at a cost of just over € 11 billion. This while Qatar is still boycotted by neighboring countries.