Lawmakers: Qatar Expulsion Would Doom (P)GCC

Kamal DehqaniKamal Dehqani

Lawmakers said Qatar's refusal to meet the Saudi-led coalition's demands would lead to the country's expulsion from (the Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council, which in turn would lead to a breakup of the Arab entity.

Kamal Dehqani, deputy chairman of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, told ICANA on Saturday, "Riyadh-Doha dispute would lead to the formation of new alliances in the Persian Gulf after disintegrating the (P)GCC."

"[P]GCC was formed as a counterbalance to Iran and [as a result of] Saudi Arabia's dominance over its neighboring sheikhdoms, but today we are witnessing that this strategy has failed," he said.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and transportation links with Qatar in early June, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism and being too close to Iran.

The Arab quartet then gave the gas-exporting emirate a 10-day ultimatum to comply with a 13-point list of demands in exchange for ending their anti-Qatar measures. Doha later turned down the demands, saying "they were meant to be rejected".

The demands asked Qatar to shut down the Aljazeera media network, close a Turkish military base, scale down ties with Iran and pay an unspecified sum in reparations, with Qatar being audited once a month for the first year, once per quarter in the second year and annually over a decade.

Lawmaker Hossein Naqavi Hosseini said the blockading countries' demands were in fact tantamount to violating the sovereignty and self-determination of Qataris.

"Qatar's resistance means the end of Al-Saud chieftainship and godfather role for the Middle East Arab states," he said, adding that the rift has reached the point of no return.

"Saudis have to [take action to] prove their authority."

The moves taken by Saudi Arabia and its allies so far have backfired and undermined Riyadh's regional clout, following Qatar's refusal to toe the line.

 Turkey Pushing Own Agenda

Lawmaker Jalil Rahimi said Turkey, a NATO member, is not in a position to support Doha militarily in the event of a war, noting that Ankara's presence in Qatar stems from its own interests in the Syria war.

"Turkey's biggest fear [of the Syrian war] is the independence of Iraqi and Syrian Kurds, which may happen within a few months in the Middle East," he said.

Rahimi said many militants fighting in Syria such as Free Syrian Army, Muslim Brotherhood-aligned forces and Syrian nationalists are lined up against the Saudi-led Syrian militants, which include Kurdish forces. "This is the main motivation for Turkey to support Qatar against Riyadh."

Turkey set up a military base in Qatar, its first such establishment in the Middle East, as part of an agreement signed in 2014. The base, which has a capacity to accommodate up to 5,000 troops, already hosts 1,000 Turkish soldiers.

Turkey and Qatar have both supported Muslim Brotherhood in the past. One of the demands of the Arab quartet is for Qatar to stop supporting the Egyptian-based group.

Ankara was emphatic in its denunciation of the Egyptian military coup that toppled the democratically-elected Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, drawing the ire of Cairo.

Lawmaker Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh said the future of Syria war, disbanding of Muslim Brotherhood and the abortive military coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016 led to Ankara changing its approach to a more realistic one regarding the Saudi-led coalition in Syria war.

"Ankara witnessed the betrayal of [the Saudi-led] coalition," he concluded.

Erdogan said on Saturday Turkey would not watch passively as weapons are sent to Kurdish fighters on its southern border, saying his country would respond to any threats to national security.

Militants aligned against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and desperate to save themselves said on Friday they were preparing to join the Turkish military in a major new offensive against Kurdish forces in northwestern Syria. This is while Turkey and the US initially intervened in Syria to combat the self-styled Islamic State terrorists.

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