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Forbes: Three ways the dangerous shutdown of Qatar can be resolved (one is war)

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1. Qatar relies more heavily on remaining friends. Ten countries had cut diplomatic relations with Qatar as of Saturday, international broadcaster Al-Jazeera reports. But Turkey pledged Friday to help with food and medicine as needed, the broadcaster says. Iran still supports it, too. A top source of labor, the Philippines, indicated Wednesday it would ease an early ban on new migrant workers headed to Qatar. About 5% percent of overseas Filipino workers land in Qatar, outnumbering Qatari nationals. India might pitch in support, too, one analyst says. So Qatar would keep a lifeline open. “Qatar has other options for importing food, such as the Qatari-Iranian maritime border and airspace which the Qataris can still use,” says Giorgio Cafiero, CEO of Washington-based political risk consultancy Gulf State Analytics. “It is more expensive to fly in food compared to importing it by land via Saudi Arabia, yet Qatar has the financial means to weather this.”

2. Hostile Middle Eastern countries swing a deal with Qatar. Neutral neighbors Kuwait and Oman are looking for a solution to the Qatar issue, Cafiero says. The United States, which uses Qatar’s al-Udeiba Air Base to fight terrorists, has called for a resolution, too. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last week asked Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE to ease the blockade against Qatar, Al Jazeera reported. Tillerson said in a speech Friday that a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a six-nation political and economic union including Qatar, should seek a solution. The emir of Qatar should do more, and faster, to expel extremist elements from his country, he added. “Qatar is the home for al-Udeiba Air Base from which US and UK military planes fly to bomb ISIS targets,” says Ameer Ali, a lecturer at Murdoch University’s School of Business and Governance in Australia. “This is why (U.S. President Donald) Trump is now desperate to find a settlement to the Qatar issue.”

3. A war starts. Qatar may defend its suspected support for Hamas, which many foreign governments consider a terrorist group. It could do the same for the Muslim Brotherhood Sunni Islamist political and social movement. Then those groups’ detractors such as Saudi Arabia would get angrier, upping diplomatic or economic pressure on Qatar. One of the stateless, suspected terrorist groups it’s known to support might feel the heat and bomb something somewhere. Qatar would take the blame and may be struck back. Saudi Arabia has also “financed terror groups like A-Qaeda, Taliban and Laskar e-Taiba,” the lecturer in Australia says. “Is the pot calling kettle black?”



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