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    Gulf Group Sanctions on Qatar Backfired: Report


Sanctions need careful handling if they are to bring targeted states to heel, and this was not the case with the Saudi-led sanctions on Qatar three years ago, finds Columbia University.

by: William Powell

Posted in:

Natural Gas & LNG News, Middle East, Political, News By Country, Bahrain, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia

Gulf Group Sanctions on Qatar Backfired: Report

The sanctions imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, and Bahrain were ill-thought-out and even might have backfired, according to a new report by Columbia University's Center of Global Energy Policy. Qatar defeated the sanctions and will be better able to frustrate them in future, it said, unless the campaign enjoys much wider support.

On June 5, 2017 the four countries said they were cutting diplomatic ties with and imposing sanctions on Qatar, including a blockade of Qatar's land border with Saudi Arabia and a ban on Qatar's use of the four countries' airspace. Then the coalition embarked on a limited programme of sanctions advocacy, seeking US, European, east Asian, and other regional support for their efforts.

But a month later, Qatar made its first announcement of a major expansion of its LNG exports, with a 30% capacity increase planned.

And Qatar's economic indicators today all point to the positive and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has broadly concluded that the Qatari economy is structurally sound. Qatar faces some of the same issues and tensions that other hydrocarbon-dependent economies experience, but is in a comparatively strong position, particularly as relates to its future sanctions resilience, the report says. 

"Qatar's experience is not replicable in many contexts, given its sizable advantages in available resources. Nonetheless, how the country responded to and — in this paper's assessment — effectively defeated the sanctions campaign mounted against it points to several lessons about the design and implementation of sanctions.

The report's authors concluded from their study that the use of sanctions should only follow thorough preparation, including a study of the sanctions target, its motivations and understanding the diplomatic objectives of such a campaign. They also found that a successful campaign requires as much international co-operation and support as possible.

They found that the demands made of Qatar did not match the leverage being applied, but did warn Qatar as to the threats that it faced from foreign economic coercion. As a result, Qatar is resolved to not be subject to such pressure again and it has created flexible and reliable supply chains and business arrangements to protect it in future. On top of that, it also has the confidence that comes from knowing it can manage under such circumstances, which will help it to cope with such attacks in the future.

It says: "Policymakers around the world contemplating the use of sanctions would be well served to look at the Qatari sanctions episode as a cautionary tale, showing how an ill-formed policy can ultimately undermine even legitimate complaints and result in a situation that even rewards the sanctioned party with greater resilience and capabilities. For this reason, they should not be used unless subjected to rigorous planning and assessment, ironically of the sort that Qatar is now pursuing as a means of defeating such sanctions campaigns that might be mounted against it in the future."