In the past two days, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen, and other smaller states have severed diplomatic ties with Qatar over its alleged support for Islamist groups. These countries have previously pulled diplomats out of Qatar for similar political reasons, but this time, it appears that things are a bit more serious than usual. These countries have closed off airspace, sea, and land borders with Qatar, largely isolating the country in the region. The tensions run deep with events going back to even prior to the Arab Spring, but this move comes after recent tensions with Qatari Emir's speech and reported news back in May showing Qatar's support for Iran, criticizing the US, affirming its support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, and claiming that its relations with Israel are 'good.' Qatar denies this saying that its national news agency was hacked, but the tensions continued on.
Despite growing tensions, these countries' actions against Qatar did come at a surprise, as nothing around this matter was discussed during GCC meetings, American-Islamic-Arab summit, or other official forums in recent weeks. The immediate impact this action has on the country right now is on travel and potential supply of food if this lasts for the long-term, as many food and other household goods (especially dairy and poultry products) come through by road via the Saudi border. This has caused a level of panic locally on the first day, with people rushing to the grocery stores last night to buy food and household items and withdrawing cash from banks although stores appear to be restocked and things seem to go on as 'business as usual' after the first day. Flights have also been affected, as flights to the UAE, Saudi, Bahrain, and Egypt have been cancelled until further notice. There is also frequent travel to and from Qatar to Saudi, so that travel have been stopped (this affects family gatherings for many, as there are tribes with family members in Saudi and Qatar during a special month where families gather together to break fast together).
The Minister of Foreign Affairs has said that these actions against Qatar and its leaders are unprecedented for GCC standards and one sided. He also mentioned that the country will do whatever it needs to do in order to ensure that Qatari citizens and residents are safe and go about life as normal. Kuwait has offered to facilitate dialogue and peace processes among GCC countries as it did back in 2014. Turkey has also called for dialogue and offered to help facilitate conversation to diffuse tensions in the region. If Turkey becomes involved in this current row, Turkey's actions probably won't be received too well by other GCC countries and could push Qatar's relations closer to Turkey and Iran, which may create a greater rift between Qatar and Saudi. The US is also putting out public statements, which complicates matters in the region more. Events are still unfolding, and people in Qatar are mostly watching what happens, but the majority are hopeful that this would be resolved soon.
Interestingly, a group of Christian workers gathered to pray and intercede for the country, and they were led to pray for the international relations surrounding the country. As they were praying, they weren't quite sure what and how to pray but felt that they needed to pray into international relations surrounding Qatar. And two days later, countries severed diplomatic ties with Qatar, resulting in the current row in the region. It is amazing how God leads His people to intercede for specific things in advance of events that will unfold. Please pray and seek God's Kingdom and His purposes for Qatar and the Arabian Peninsula with a 2 Chronicles 7:14 heart.
- Wisdom and clarity of vision for the Emir of Qatar (the king) and the ruling body as they make important, critical decisions and take actions in the coming days and weeks in response.
- Leaders of the countries involved and wider GCC as they work through the current 'Gulf diplomatic crisis'
- A spirit of humility and reverence for the Lord. Christian workers have often felt that Qatar is like a 'younger brother' who wants to be significant and be a big player over its older brother (Saudi). Ask that God will humble and then lift Qatar to bless the nations for His Kingdom purposes as He did with many younger siblings in the bible.
- The people that are affected by what is going on currently, as it affects food and goods supply, may potentially result in increase in price inflation, travel plans, etc. This will hurt the migrant workers the most.
- The church here may rise up in intercession for the country and region with a loving and compassionate heart.