Current Gulf crisis serve no interest

While India has strong relations with Qatar, we need to reassess the same with UAE and Saudi Arabia.

By: Express News Service | Published:July 28, 2017 10:16 pm

Realising the impracticality of their demands, the four Arab nations – Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain – leading a boycott of Qatar, are no longer demanding total compliance with a list of 13 specific demands they tabled last month.

It was recently shortlisted to six broad principles, including assurances to fight terrorism and extremism, and to end acts of provocation and incitement. There was no immediate comment from Qatar, which has continually denied any aiding of terrorists. Qatar has also condemned the blockade forced upon by its neighbours.

This new stance is not really an indication of being ready to compromise on the part of the Saudi-led alliance. Although the Arab States appear to be willing to make peace, it is simply a tactical shift.

Qatar is not alone in denouncing the violation of its global respect. Turkey has condemned the isolation as infringement on sovereignty and has pledged to, among other acts of support, supply amenities. The United States, considered to be stakeholder and the peacemaker in this Gulf crisis, has called for immediate resolution and advised the Arab States to not become reckless with demands.

The US has more than 10,000 troops stationed in Qatar, and can ill afford a military conflict between its Gulf allies. Many western capitals have been warning Saudi Arabia not to push the dispute to a level of confrontation because it would not be to its best interests.

India has expressed hope of a resolution as well. External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, recently expressed her wish for things to get normal within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The Indian Diaspora in Qatar is not worried. Not just because India is long-standing friend of Qatar, but also because they believe in the governance and Qatar’s commitment to safeguard their interests.

The Bilateral trade between India and Qatar has seen it all, having touched a high of $ 16.68 billion in 2013-14. With India needing a whopping  $ 1 trillion in the next 5 years in infrastructure alone, Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) can invest heavily in this sector. India has made efforts to actively engage with QIA and other state-owned and private entities in Qatar, highlighting policies such as ‘Make in India’. India already has major military relations with Qatar, where they have a maritime defense agreement to suppress threats from extremist elements.

While India has strong relations with Qatar, we need to reassess the same with UAE and Saudi Arabia.

A whistle-blowing information group, Global Leaks, has been quoted by papers like the Daily Beast, The Telegraph and Huffington Post as saying this month that some Gulf countries were used to receive funds from banks in Pakistan and UAE, owned by the UAE royal family, to allegedly finance terror strikes in the US in 2001 and Mumbai in 2008.

Banks like the Dubai Islamic Bank in UAE, Bank Al Falah and the United Bank Ltd. in Pakistan, owned by the Abu Dhabi Royal family, reportedly cleared financial transactions of terrorist outfits.

And now the UAE is trying to muzzle the issue. According to reports filed by The Telegraph and Huffington Post earlier this month, leaked e-mails of UAE Ambassador to the US, Yousef Al Otaiba, have privately warned American lawmakers not to allow American citizens affected by 9/11 (in the US) and 26/11 (in Mumbai, India) terror strikes to sue countries where these terror plans were supposedly hatched, in US courts, or they run the risk of not receiving “crucial information and intelligence” related to those two significant criminal incidents of the 21st century.

It’s also critical to note the incident where the UAE allegedly orchestrated the hacking of Qatari news agency (QNA) and social media sites aimed at posting incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, in late May, which sparked the ongoing upheaval between Qatar and its neighbors. US intelligence has claimed the breach took place and Washington Post reported extensively on the issue. The Post reported that US intelligence officials learned of newly analysed information that showed that senior UAE government officials discussed the planned hacks on May 23, the day before they occurred.

One of the other most disturbing facts in the ongoing attack on Qatar is the attempt at manipulation of Qatari Riyal by UAE. UAE-based bilinear owned Travelex and the UAE Exchange are reportedly refusing to buy Qatari Riyal from customers. It is aimed at devaluing the currency and further hurting the country’s economy.

Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty, founder and non-executive chairman of Abu Dhabi-based NMC Healthcare and chairman of UAE Exchange, is allegedly leading the currency manipulation. Indian-born UAE businessman BR Shetty acquired the stakes of foreign exchange firm Travelex for an undisclosed amount and it is widely believed that he is acting on behalf of the UAE Government.

Shetty and Centurion, an investment vehicle based in Abu Dhabi, owned by and controlled by His Excellency Saeed Bin Butti Al Qubaisi, jointly hold close to 58 per cent stake in the issued share capital of NMC. It is a clear indication of their collective intent to scuttle Qatar’s growing stature. The current crisis in the Gulf is serving no interest. Discussion and building consensus without pre-conditions is the only way out.

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