Qatar should get real, end denial

Has it gone too far? Maybe not. But the first step at changing tack is to admit it has a problem on its hands, which Doha is reluctant to do

Pressure is mounting on Qatar over its links to terror groups, but the government in Doha is intent on denial. The country's actions and statements to portray itself as a victim of a regional geopolitical game have failed. It has used Al Jazeera, its global media arm to spread falsehood and ratchet up tensions when all it has been asked to do is to stop the spread of terror from its soil. The US and Britain have joined the condemnation against the country for its role as a benefactor of groups and individuals spreading hate and sowing sectarian discord. Instead of launching a diplomatic offensive, Doha must take a step back and introspect while there is still time. It started this business of terror funding two decades ago and created monsters out of warring groups and factions across the Middle East while buying their loyalty. Has it gone too far? Maybe not. But the first step at changing tack is to admit it has a problem on its hands, which Doha is reluctant to do.

It has strayed from the core issue by blaming the UAE and Saudi Arabia for its predicament and calls the action taken against it a blockade. It then launched a global diplomatic offensive when it should be resolving the issue at home, in the Gulf. The Gulf countries are concerned about their security situation and do not want one of its members to throw the game away as different extremist ideologies and groups jostle for influence. Qatar has proved over the years that it is an unreliable partner with a foreign policy that puts the entire region at risk. Here's how it can pull back from the brink. First, it should end this cycle of denial and initiate dialogue with the GCC. Second, it should stop internationalising an issue for which it is solely responsible. Third, it should rein in Al Jazeera and stop the propaganda unleashed by the broadcaster. Fourth, it should stick to commitments of the 2014 agreement in which it said would end interference in other states. Fifth, it should stop hobnobbing with regimes like Iran. And finally, it should enter into a more substantive dialogue with its GCC partners on the issue of terror, and set a timeframe to put its house in order. This regional crisis needs a regional solution.

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