The so-called Qatari sovereignty

Hassan Abou Taleb
Friday 21 Jul 2017

A state's sovereignty is not absolute. It is governed by international law and internationally agreed principles, as well as the rights of neighbouring states

Since the very first moment that four states – Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates – announced their boycott of Qatar, followed by the leaking by the latter of the 13 demands presented by these countries to the Kuwaiti mediator, Doha alleged that these demands are inapplicable because they conflict with the principle of sovereignty, which it insists on and won't forsake.

Turkey said the same and its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeated the same argument.

From a purely formal perspective, it is the right of every state to stick to the concept of sovereignty as an absolute right in administering its affairs without any foreign interference, and in return it should refrain from interfering in other states' affairs, whether directly or indirectly.

This is done as a commitment to the principles agreed by the international community concerning good neighbourly conduct and refraining from harming others. According to which, the state's absolute sovereignty – even if we accept this concept – is not absolute in reality, neither in the external sphere nor internally.

In the first sphere, there are the collective treaties and commitments of international law that were agreed by a number of states, and which constitute in practical reality a higher will superseding that of the will of an individual state. This can be seen in the submission of the states to the supra-regional institutions founded by these states themselves in order to provide a higher degree of protection for the member states, or fulfilling the collective higher interests of these states.

As for the internal sphere, absolute sovereignty is restricted by concepts and understandings reached by the sum of all states under the umbrella of the United Nations and its regional organisations for the protection of human rights, the environment and public health.

In the field of sports, we see the collective principles and commitments of FIFA and similar continental sport organisations superseding local laws. Local laws are even changed to be compatible with these collective international principles and commitments, since they fulfill universal interests that are higher than the interests of one particular state, whoever that state may be

If so, then the alleged sovereignty, according to the Qatari propagandist approach, becomes evidence of the bankruptcy of this state and its breaking away from the ruling frameworks of the international system as a whole. Moreover, the argument of sovereignty in combating terrorism means, according to the Qatari understanding, that this state continues to harm the interests of the whole world without expecting any reaction or retribution that matches the serious damage caused.

Thus, it becomes a rogue state, according to the spirit of the applicable international law.

The four countries linked their boycott of Doha – in the light of the 13 demands and the four principles mentioned in the Cairo Declaration on 5 July – to the rights of these states to pressure this rogue state to restructure its policies.

This should be done in line with the accomplishements of the whole world concerning understandings and agreements on the necessity of combating terrorism – starting with halting propagandist and political incitement; through total abstinence from financing terrorist entities providing them with a safe haven; and ending with a strict commitment to globally agreed measures to besiege this epidemic and terminate it. This will in turn enhance the world's security as a whole.

We draw attention here to what has been endorsed by the G20 Summit, including the most economically advanced and politically influential countries worldwide, held in Hamburg, Germany. The G20 has stated that terrorism is a threat to the entire world and should be combated: its financing should be prevented; relevant intelligence information should be exchanged; coordinated efforts made to confront terrorist organisations in any place; and the expected dangers after exterminating IS in Iraq and Syria be evaluated and the necessary precautions be taken.

These agreements issued by the Hamburg Summit are considered a confirmation of the conclusions of the Riyadh Summit, and they are what the four states stated in the Cairo and the second Riyadh Declarations.

These international understandings amount to collective agreements that not only bind the states that endorsed them but constitute a direct constraint over the nations of the world. No party can allege that his right to absolute sovereignty prevents him from participating in combating the current terrorist wave or whatever may emerge from it in the near future. This applies to Qatar and other states.

In which case, using the sovereignty argument as a pretext to evade regional and international commitments is meaningless and lacking in any basis.
It is even an argument against those who propogate it, confirming their complicity in these forbidden activities.

Thus, international collective sanctions should be imposed until this state has purified itself of all the crimes in which it has been involved and paid compensation proportionate to the damage it has caused.

In this way, Qatar constitutes a flagrant example of a country participating quite freely and persistently in terrorist activities in other states, while relying on delusions of regional leadership without anything supporting this. This has been done solely to damage the inhabitants of these countries and the political regimes accepted by the people of those nations.

Is it an act of sovereignty that Qatar finances terrorist groups in Egypt, Syria, Libya, the Yemen, Iraq and Somalia, according to official American, German and British reports? At the same time, Qatar believes that nobody has the right to stand up to it or demand it to stop those criminal activities against other people and against the rights of regional security.

The irony here is that Doha, which insists on its absolute sovereignty in sponsoring international terrorism, resorts to states and powers, such as Turkey and Iran, well-known for their polices of direct and violent intervention in the internal affairs of other states. It resorts to them, asking for their protection from brother states, with which it constitutes a sub-regional order in the Arabian Gulf, one of the most important pillars of which is confronting Iranian regional expansionism in all its forms, whether sectarian, political or military.

Thus, it is committing overt treason against the Gulf Cooperation Council’s charter. Furthermore, the so-called sovereignty of Qatar has not prevented it from agreeing with Germany to present to its intelligence services the necessary information and documents regarding Doha's relations with terrorist entities working in Syrian, Libyan and Iraqi territories, so that Berlin may decide the extent of Qatari support to those terrorist entities.

This is the part that has been declared.

However, there is also an undeclared aspect to the deal: in return for the supply of information on these entities, Berlin will announce that Qatar is innocent of spilling the Arab people's blood.

What an infiltrated, blood-soaked ruin this so-called Qatari sovereignty is.

The writer is a political commentator.

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