Gulf Countries - CC via NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Sciences
CAIRO – 12 August 2017: The tiny Gulf emirate of Qatar, and its officials still call the Arab boycott over its support to terrorism a blockade, but it contradicts the status quo.
The difference between the blockade and the boycott is huge. Boycott means a withdrawal of diplomatic and economic relations by a state or a group of states with another state, but blockade is completely besieged by sea, air and land and the prevention of any commercial or external contact with them.
On June 5, the four countries (Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain) severed their ties with Qatar over its support to terrorist groups. They asked Doha to stop funding terrorists in the region and demanded the 13 conditions to start dialogue. The Arab countries also closed their aerospace and maritime territories for the Qatari transportation.
On August 6, Bahraini Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa tweeted, “If Qatari officials insisted on using the term blockade and that their country is blockaded, they have to open an independent investigation in all cases related to this blockade to prove their claims.”
There are many indications that Qatar has not been besieged legally, economically or militarily.
On July 1, The Arab Federation of Human Rights condemned the Qatari government’s decision to name the recent severance of diplomatic ties assumed by many Arab countries towards the Gulf nation as a blockade.
The federation clarified in a report that “blockade” is defined as a coercive isolation imposed through military force, according to international law.
Also, Ayman Salameh, a professor of public international law at Cairo University, told Sky News Arabyia on June 12 that the measures taken recently by Gulf and Arab countries against Qatar fall under the framework of "cutting ties, not blockade," and not as promoted by the Qatari media.
“States have the right to take measures of boycott, collectively or individually, against any state that violates the rules of international law," he added.
Salameh also said, “Simply, Qatar is unlike the countries which are known and historically suffered blockade such as Libya, Iraq, Somalia, and the Gaza Strip.”
Earlier this month, a trilateral meeting was held between Qatar’s minister of Economy and Commerce, Ahmed bin Jassim Al-Thani, Iran’s Information and Communications Technology minister, Mahmoud Vaezi, and Turkey’s minister of Economy, Nihat Zeybekci, in Tehran in order to discuss furthering their economic relations and possible trade routes between Turkey to Qatar passing through Iran, Iranian newspaper reported.
The meeting was held during the inauguration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for the second term last week.
Qatar's foreign minister said that goods and materials reach Qatar from sea ports and regional airspace that remain open, contradicting the claims of a blockade and the full briefing of sea, land and air.
After several countries severed ties with Qatar, Tehran immediately provided assistance to Doha and provided it with food.
On June 12, Iranian Air spokesman Shahrokh Noushabadi promised to support Qatar with shipments of food. Days after the announcement, Iran sent four cargo planes full of food supplies, and they promised to send more.
On 8 August, Iran’s ambassador to Qatar Mohamed Ali Sobhani stated, “There is no problem sending shipments by air or by sea to help Qatar.”
Iran shipped 20 tons of canned milk to Qatar on August 8 in an attempt to improve economic relations between the two countries. The attempt was made to counter sanctions imposed upon Qatar.
Qatar and Iran are economically joined by a gas field in the waters of the Arabian Gulf (South Pars/North Dome Gas-Condensate field), according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Turkey has also pledged food support, as a fear of a food shortage grows.
On August 7, Turkish and Qatari military performed military exercises in a show of strategic alliance between the two countries. Turkish military forces were sent to Doha after an agreement that was signed in 2014 was sped up in June.
The military cooperation showed that the country does not suffer from the Arab siege. However, after severing relations, Doha hastened to conclude military agreements with Iran and Turkey. Earlier this month Qatar signed a deal with Italy for €5 billion ($5.91 billion) for seven navy vessels.
Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdoğan also sent 5,000 Turkish troops in six batches to Doha to secure Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and establish a Turkish military base in Doha.
Sohar became Qatar Airways’ third destination in Oman after Muscat and Salalah; Qatar Airways launched the first flight to Sohar on 8 August. It was attended by Sheikh Samer Ahmed Al-Nabhani, General Manager of Oman’s Airports Management Company (OAMC), and Ali bin Fahd Al-Hajri, Qatar's ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman.