Yulduz Khaliullin: ''Qatar by territory is as small as a half of Agryzsky District of Tatarstan''

Soviet-Russian diplomat: when the diplomatic conflict around Qatar will be resolved

Yulduz Khaliullin: ''Qatar by territory is as small as a half of Agryzsky District of Tatarstan'' Photo: Maksim Platonov

The unexpected news has recently come from the Middle East: seven countries (Bahrain, the UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Libya and the Maldives) have suspended the diplomatic relations with Qatar. A Russian and Soviet diplomat, Orientalist Yulduz Khaliullin in the newspaper column for Realnoe Vremya writes about the new political crisis in the Islamic world. Also, the columnist, comparing Qatar with one of the districts of Tatarstan, tells about the global role of the small Arab state.

The reaction of Moscow and Washington

These days we are observing another unexpected crisis in the Arab world. The rupture of diplomatic relations of the leading Arab countries is another political earthquake in the already turbulent Middle East. The announcement of a ''cold war'' to Qatar, the demarche occurred allegedly because of the support by Qatar of the terrorist organizations in Syria and Iraq, plus due to the rapprochement with Shiite Iran — this is the way it is justified.

The essence of the statements of our officials is known. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov said: ''We do not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. We hope that the differences and contradictions that have emerged between the Arab countries will be resolved by diplomatic and political means.'' Peskov said the same thing.

''Washington refrained from any harsh comments. Probably because it happened almost a week after Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia.'' Photo: obzor.press

We have good economic relations with all countries. In January of this year, Moscow signed an agreement on investment with one of the Qatari funds. The sum of the transaction is about $1 billion. Such agreements we concluded with other countries as well. Therefore, it is difficult to make critical statements in the address of certain countries.

But the U.S. reaction was peculiar. Washington refrained from any harsh comments. Probably because it happened almost a week after Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia. Besides, Qatar had and still has a very close relationship with the United States. Americans here have a very large air base – the headquarters of U.S. Central Command.

A small country — as small as a half of Agryzsky District of Tatarstan

Qatar is a tiny dot on the world map. Its territory is about 12,000 square kilometers. According to my data, it is a half of the territory of Agryzsky District of Tatarstan. The population is also small – 2,6 million people. But what is interesting, the Qataris of them are only 10-12%. The remaining 88-90% (more than 2 million) — comers from other countries. A rather unusual phenomenon.

However, Qatar is an incredibly rich country due to oil and gas. According to some data, last year's GDP of Qatar amounted to $335 billion. By this indicator, this small country takes the 50-52 place in the world. In terms of gross product per capita they take the first place: last year, the income per capita was $130,000.

''According to some estimates, by the reserves of natural gas, the country occupies the third place in the world — 25 trillion cubic meters.'' Photo: emirates247.com

The main wealth of Qatar is gas. According to some estimates, by the reserves of natural gas, the country occupies the third place in the world — 25 trillion cubic meters. By the reserves of oil — 20-25 billion barrels, falling into the top ten.

Major partners in export of hydrocarbons are Japan, India and South Korea, as well as France and the UK. The Qataris buy food in the closest Arab countries of the Persian Gulf.

As for the population, Sunni Muslims account for 65-70%. The remaining 30% are Christians, Hindus and Buddhists, they arrived as labour force people from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

''The situation will be handled by the end of the year''

As I remember, something similar already happened three years ago. Then, Qatar broke off diplomatic relations with the same countries, which had already broken with Doha. Attempts to attribute to Qatar the actions that are held by other Arab states in the Middle East seem very strange.

Many countries are also worried that 20 years ago, in 1996, in Qatar there was created a powerful media outlet – Al Jazeera. It is through this resource there is a certain informational influence on the Arab world.

''Many countries are also worried that 20 years ago, in 1996, in Qatar there was created a powerful media outlet – Al Jazeera.'' Photo: theduran.com

The conflict needs to be settled, and some steps are already seen. The Emir of Kuwait was to visit Jordan with an official visit, but instead he went to Saudi Arabia. He got in touch with the current leader of Qatar, at the same time, he wants to negotiate with Saudi Arabia. In parallel, Turkey's President Erdoğan, who has good relations with Qatar, intensified his efforts. Their interests in Syria and Iraq perhaps converge. Other countries of the Muslim world, I am sure, will take new measures to resolve the situation.

From the very beginning, the Western countries should not have intervened in the internal affairs of the Arab countries. The consequences of the intervention we have been observing for already 10 years — the so-called Arab Spring. It has led to nothing good. All this shows that some wrongful actions lead to a tightening of the situation in certain regions. It shold not be allowed to happen.

I think that this situation will be settled by the end of the year. I hope that the parties will not take drastic action and will not exacerbate the conflict. Even more so the world large states are watching attentively. Additional complications of the situation in the Middle East are unnecessary for the whole world. The problems in Iraq, Syria and other countries have not been resolved yet.

By Yulduz Khaliullin