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29th-Jun-2018

Qatar seeks justice in ICJ: A move that ignores US-backed Saudi dominance on the Gulf nation

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THE International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague has begun hearing a lawsuit by Qatar against the United Arab Emirates (UAE), over a year long blockade against the Gulf nation. On Wednesday, lawyers for Qatar presented their case in front of the ICJ, while representatives of the UAE will present their arguments on Thursday. The blockade started on June 5, 2017, when the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and trade ties with Doha and expelled Qatari citizens.
Mohammed Abdulaziz al-Khulaifi, one of Qatar's representatives at the hearing, said that there were no other channels for Qatari citizens to seek out justice. The other blockading countries, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain, are not signatories to this treaty. Qatar's National Human Rights Committee estimated the blockade has affected about 13,000 people. Saudi Arabia closed Qatar's only land border and - together with the UAE and Bahrain - shuttered its airspace to Qatar Airways.
Qatar said it is being punished for having an independent foreign policy. This remains the crux of the matter. Saudi Arabia has long tried to make Qatar work like an appendage of it. But the last Emir Hamad Al Thani ensured that Qatar had an independent vision. Qatar has a hugely disproportionate influence in the Arab world. It funds globally known Arab news channel Al Jazeera. Israeli PM Netanyahu dislikes the tv because it shows the plight of the Palestinians and portrays Israel in a negative light.
It has over USD 300 billion dollar reserve fund. Its citizens enjoy the world's highest per capita income. Because of their economic power Qatar frequently involves itself with decisions which are not liked by Saudi Arabia. It remains close with Hamas and Iran-this is by itself anathema to Saudi Arabia which considers Iran to be its mortal enemy. Qatar has supported rebel movements in Libya and Syria as well.
But the main reason for the current boycott of Qatar by Saudi Arabia occurred after the visit by Donald Trump in 2017. The Business Insider reported in 2017 that Elloitt Broidy a top fundraiser for President Donald Trump and George Nader, Broidy's business partner, pushed for anti-Qatar policies at the highest levels of government, and expected large consulting contracts from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This finally emboldened Saudi Arabia to push forward with its total blockade of all things Qatari. But this will never work so long as Qatar has money--and it has a lot. Saudi Arabia may feel left out when the 2022 Football World Cup starts--it will be held in Qatar.