Riyadh Humiliating Meeting: A Willing Bahrain and Disinclined Qatar

2023-02-13 - 9:54 ص

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The meeting that took place on Tuesday (February 7, 2023) between the Qatari and Bahraini Foreign Ministers was not a success for Manama's diplomacy in any way, but it rather can be described as humiliating in form and essence.

In form, Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani is seen sitting laid back on a chair with a broad smile on his face, while his Bahraini counterpart seemed like he was aware of his every move, as if does not want to give any wrong impression that may lead their efforts, begging for a settlement with Doha, to a more complicated situation.

Abdullatif Al-Zayani tries hard to put on a smile while seated next to his Qatari counterpart, at the GCC General Secretariat building in Riyadh, which demonstrates another Qatari sign of their unwillingness to meet with the Bahrainis in Manama, or even receive them in Doha. 

Since the signing of the Al-Ula Agreement on January 4, 2021, Qatar has worked toward completely ignoring Bahrain, and has clearly set its priorities. They showed interest in opening the border with Saudi Arabia, their only land border, and the other priority they announced is gradually restoring relations with the UAE and Egypt, in which Qatar invests huge amounts of money in various sectors, mainly tourism.

Relations were directly restored with Saudi Arabia, and there remained a reluctance to deal with the UAE and Egypt, with a complete disregard for Bahrain, which at first tried to continue the policy of acting superior when dealing with Qatar, when it invited Qatari officials to visit Bahrain in order to resolve outstanding issues.

No one knows what the government in Bahrain was thinking, as the Al-Ula agreement was a Qatari victory over the boycotting countries, and it is better for those who decided on their own to sever relations, to seek to restore them without setting conditions (this is what happened in the cases of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which took the initiative to restore relations), so how can the smallest and least influential country among the boycotting countries act differently!

Bahrain began to launch media statements calling for a gathering in Manama and holding a dialogue. The Qatari disregard; however, necessitated a change in communication, followed by diplomatic letters, and official delegates to Doha. The King of Bahrain even visited the Emir of Qatar at his residence in Saudi Arabia during a meeting of the GCC leaders with the US president. This visit, which was not mentioned in the Qatari media, was followed by a Bahraini initiative under which the travel ban to Qatar was lifted; a step that Bahrain thought might contribute to softening the Qatari position, but in reality, it did not bring about any change at all in Doha's policies.

With the approach of the World Cup, Qatar closed the Bridge of Love office, in another indication of its unwillingness to develop relations with Manama in the future, and Bahrain became obligated to return the amounts of money paid for the construction of the bridge on the Bahraini side. The World Cup went by, from which all Gulf countries benefited, except Bahrain which couldn't even secure direct air links with Qatar.

In order to achieve this meeting at the level of foreign ministers, Bahrain was forced to beg Qatar publicly and from the highest ranking officials, as Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad made a phone call with the Emir of Qatar, Tamim Al Thani, in which he publicly and humiliatingly called for resolving outstanding issues. This was followed by a statement by the King of Bahrain while presiding over the meeting of the Council of Ministers, which revolved around the same subject of matter.

Going back to what happened on Tuesday, the meeting was also insulting in essence, as Bahrain committed to publishing a statement that the Qataris seem to have obliged the Bahraini side to, without any changes, and the Bahrain News Agency was obliged to publish it as is.

The statement does not suggest any Qatari intention for a rapid normalization of relations, as it stated the following: "The meeting explored the establishment of the necessary mechanisms and procedures to launch discussions at the level of bilateral committees, in accordance with the Al-Ula Declaration issued at the Al-Ula Summit in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia." This suggests that the two countries are going through a lengthy process that may take months until relations are restored.

Less than two weeks after the signing of the Al-Ula Agreement, and after Bahrain was annoyed by the Qatari indifference, the Bahraini authorities seized the real estate and property of the Emir of Qatar's uncle, Qatari businessman Khalid Al-Misnad. At that time, Bahrain thought it could subdue Qatar with bullying and some childish behavior that had nothing to do with diplomacy, but it discovered, a few months later, that its enemy neighbor had the ability of ignoring such acts to drive Bahrain insane. It also discovered that those who incited it to boycott Qatar had left Bahrain to deal on its own, for Manama is only a puppet in the hands of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

What the world has seen in the past two years of Qatar's attitude toward Bahrain is no small feat. Doha has shown the world how Bahrain's rulers lack diplomacy, and how they still act with a sense of tribal revenge, that are a far cry from the adopted principles and customs, and at the same time run a marginal state without any influence or weight, and even more than that, it is a country dependent on its neighbors, surviving on their aid, which is sent to the pockets of the ruling family as soon as it is received.

Arabic Version