Bustards, bullies, billions, and the blockade: Applying dispute resolution theory to the first nine months of the siege of Qatar
While disputes have simmered for decades between members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the June 5, 2017 blockade of land, sea, and air routes to and from Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt ignited the worst conflict in the Arab Gulf for over 30 years. The dispute threatens hydrocarbon supplies and markets, undermines the fight against ISIL and other violent Islamic groups, and plays to the geopolitical advantage of neighboring Iran. This chapter describes the ransom paid for a hunting party that may have set off the siege (bustards). Next, it provides context by describing events at the Riyadh summit held in May 2017, the tweets of U.S. President Donald Trump about the alleged Qatari role in terrorism financing, and several possible sources of bias by the new U.S. administration against Qatar and in favor of the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The chapter next describes the three secret Riyadh Agreements, executed in 2013 and 2014, that set out behaviors the leaders of the Gulf States agreed to adopt to prevent instability in the region following the Arab Spring. The chapter then describes the onset of the siege (blockade) and briefly outlines some possible reasons for the siege. It next provides the language of the thirteen demands made by the blockading countries that later took the form of six principles. In addition, it describes the dispute resolution theory applied in Chapters 3 to 5. In Getting Disputes Resolved: Designing Systems to Cut the Costs of Conflict, Ury, Brett and Goldberg proposed three categories - power-based, rights-based, and interest-based - for analyzing interventions and processes used by parties in conflict. Chapter 3 expands the discussion of the dispute resolution theory by identifying the power-based processes used by the blockading countries in their attempt to force Qatari leaders to capitulate to the list of thirteen demands (bullies). These interventions risk escalating the conflict in dangerous ways. Chapters 4 and 5 describe the sophisticated rights-based and interest-based processes Qatar has pursued in an attempt to resolve the dispute, including the billions of dollars Qatar has paid to rebuild its relationship with the Trump administration (billions).
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