One year has passed since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar, sparking the biggest diplomatic crisis in the Gulf in years.
Land and maritime borders with the Gulf country were shut, air links suspended and Qatari citizens expelled.
The blockade, which began on June 5, 2017, followed US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia in May, during which he met several Arab and Muslim leaders.
Accusing Doha of supporting “terrorists” and being too close to Saudi Arabia’s region rival Iran, Riyadh said it acted to “protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism”.
Qatar has repeatedly rejected the accusations levelled against it, viewing the campaign as an attempt to impose custodianship over the nation. It has called the allegations “baseless”.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia gave Qatari citizens in their countries two weeks to leave and ordered their own citizens in Qatar to return.
With Qatar heavily dependent on food imports, there were concerns that the border closures could lead to food shortages. However, countries such as Iran and Turkey have increased their food exports to Doha, resulting in well-stocked supermarkets.
Deadlines and blacklists
On June 22, the quartet gave Qatar 10 days to comply with a list of 13 demands, which included shutting down Al Jazeera and the Turkish military base in Doha, as well as curbing relations with Iran.
After a two-day extension, Qatar rejected the list as “unrealistic”, describing the demands as “not actionable”.
The quartet responded by threatening new sanctions and on July 25 unveiled a “terrorist” blacklist of 18 groups and individuals, which they claimed have links to Qatar.
The blacklist later expanded to include 90 names, some affiliated to the Qatar Red Crescent, the International Union of Muslim Scholars, and the International Islamic Council for Da’wah and Relief.
The blockade has disrupted businesses, education and transport between Qatar and its neighbours, while also tearing apart inter-GCC marriages.
Qatar described the actions taken by the blockading countries as having “no legitimate justification”, saying the decisions infringe on its sovereignty.
Both the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and the country’s foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, have reiterated the Gulf country is willing to negotiate with the blockading nations and have welcomed calls from international leaders to sit down for talks.
Despite serious high-level Kuwaiti, American, and European mediation efforts, the situation remains unresolved and at a standstill.