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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

France sides with Qatar in Gulf row


French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian with Qatar’s FM Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani. Credit: MOFA

Qatar’s neighbors should end the hurtful boycott against the country “as soon as possible,” France’s foreign minister has said.

“This crisis is not benefitting anyone and is against everyone’s interests,” Jean-Yves Le Drian said to reporters in Doha yesterday.

France is “very concerned by the sudden deterioration” of the situation in the Gulf,” he added.

“France calls for the lifting, as soon as possible, of the measures that affect the populations in particular, bi-national families that have been separated or students,” Le Drian said, according to Al Jazeera.

More pressure

France is the latest nation to side with Qatar in the ongoing Gulf dispute. Turkey, the UK and Germany have also expressed support for an end to the blockade.

But the US has sent mixed messages, with President Donald Trump previously voicing support for the boycott, while the Pentagon continues to urge an end to the dispute.

Qatar is home to the largest US air base in the Middle East. Credit: U.S. Air Forces Central Command

It is the US that must get more involved for the fight to end, according to Samer Shehata of the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, he said France does “not have a tremendous amount” of influence in the crisis.

But the US “has the most pressure it can potentially exert on the parties involved, particularly the Saudis and the Emiratis.”

No end in sight

It’s been a month and a half since Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt cut economic and diplomatic ties with Qatar for political reasons.

Despite mediation efforts by the US and Kuwait, the Gulf countries appear to have reached an impasse.

Qatar has rejected demands to close down Al Jazeera and its Turkish military base in Doha, among other conditions.

Photo for illustrative purposes only. Credit: Paul Keller/Flickr

The UAE has since said the news network no longer needs to be shut down, just “restructured,” signaling that a softening of other demands could be on the horizon.

But also this week, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Relations warned that the conflict won’t be ending anytime soon.

“We are heading toward a long estrangement,” Anwar al-Gargash said on Twitter, according to the Associated Press.

“The reality is we are far from a political solution that changes Qatar’s course. In light of that, nothing will change and we must look to a different mode in relations,” he added.

That said, the quartet appears reluctant to escalate the crisis further, especially without international support, which they have been unable to garner.


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