The US is concerned that the four month-long dispute involving its chief allies in the region is entrenching divisions and may end up forcing Qatar – home to the US’s primary Middle East military base – into a closer relationship with Iran.
Washington is expected to give the regional mediator, Kuwait’s Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, another chance to try to persuade the warring parties to meet at a long-scheduled Gulf Cooperation Council summit in December, but it may intervene soon afterwards.
“We will not and cannot dictate the terms of any resolution, but we are happy to be available in any way that the parties would like,” the US assistant secretary of state Tim Lenderking said this month.
He said the rhetoric surrounding the dispute, including “personal and often humiliating attacks”, made a verbal ceasefire a precondition of any talks. “At the moment there is an erosion of trust between the Gulf leaders,” he said.
The blockade has resulted in a rallying to the flag by the country’s 250,000 Qataris and its many other residents. Many of Doha’s buildings, cars, airport signs, mobile phone covers and even Qatari Twitter handles are festooned with the same drawing of the emir, nicknamed “Tamim the Glorious”.
In universities, students report an upsurge of patriotic feeling. Alanood al-Jalahma, a 21-year-old medical student, said the dispute had led to a growing interest in politics on university campuses. “People are speaking up and saying this could be done better. Change is happening,” she said.
But Jalahma said it was also leading towards a long-term rupture in the Gulf. “People are so scared that if I send a note of congratulations on social media to a friend in Bahrain, they will not reply.”
Source credit – The Guardian