Thousands of united Qataris lined the Doha streets last Sunday to welcome back the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani as he returned from his first trip abroad during the ongoing Gulf diplomatic crisis. The diplomatic crisis began when Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia and followed by United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt, abruptly cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar in June 2017.
After three months with no probable end to the deadlock, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani travelled to Turkey, France, Germany and the US – where he addressed the UN General Assembly – his first overseas engagement since Qatar was isolated politically by neighboring states.
The first leader Sheikh Tamim met on his trip was Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on September 15, more than 100 days since the onset of the crisis. Erdogan has been a major support base of Qatar during the three month ongoing crisis. Turkey has shown solidarity with Doha by delivering food, supplies and boosting military ties, including sending troops to a Turkish base in Qatar. Sheikh also met the powerful German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin where she voiced “great concern” that no end to the conflict was in sight. Merkel, addressing reporters alongside the Emir, said she hoped dialogue could lead to “fair compromises.”
Germany has long been supporting diplomatic efforts to try and defuse the crisis.
Following the meetings with Merkel, the Emir went to Paris for talks with the French President Emmanuel Macron in Elysee Palace. The French president called on the blockading countries to lift the embargo on Qatar “as soon as possible”.
Tamim also visited New York where he addressed the United Nations General Assembly. Speaking in New York, Sheikh Tamim said that the countries imposing an “unjust blockade” on Qatar are seeking to destabilize a sovereign state. He called on leaders to take concerted action against terrorist organizations and their extremist ideologies to maintain global security and stability.
Back home, the disgruntled Emir stills seem to enjoy confidence of Qataris. People waved flags, danced on top of cars and children wore T-shirts depicting the ruler’s face to show support for him as he landed after succeeding support for his country from world leaders who matter. It is to be seen, whether Qatar evolves out of the crisis, with head held high or not.