Gulf States Claim Qatar Demands Are Based on Previous GCC Deals

Argument Is Based on Interpretation of 2013, 2014 Documents

UAE media has published a pair of “top secret’ documents from the GCC, dated in 2013 and 2014, which they say “proves” that Qatar is in violation of past agreements within the council, and moreover that the 13 Saudi demands are based largely on what Qatar already agreed to.

The 2013 document commits GCC members not to grant asylum to anyone from other GCC states, to not support “deviant groups that oppose their states,” and to not support “antagonistic media.” It also forbids supporting the Muslim Brotherhood or anyone else looking to effect political change within any GCC nation.

This is being interpreted as violations on three fronts, that Qatar has not expelled GCC citizens who were ordered by Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain to leave Qatar during the blockade, that Qatar is “supporting” the Muslim Brotherhood by not banning them, and that al-Jazeera counts as “antagonistic media.”

The 2014 document commits all GCC members to the support of Egypt’s military junta, including “ceasing all media activity” critical of the junta, and to work to stop any critical coverage of Egypt’s junta in domestic media that isn’t directly GCC controlled.

This once again centers on a very specific interpretation of al-Jazeera’s activities, and that giving any voice to the ousted democratic government’s supporters amounts to direct criticism of the junta. It also appears to be the basis for the demands about shutting all Qatari media permanently, as the memo is explicitly hostile toward al-Jazeera.

And yet, the wording of the demands and the agreements are markedly different. Qatar argues that they are not “backing” the Muslim Brotherhood, but rather just not actively forbidding them. The pledge not to allow “antagonistic media” is also vague, and clearly well short of the new demands to forbid Qatar having any media, ever in the future.

The GCC states blockading Qatar clearly believe these deals will add sympathy to their cause however, as otherwise they’d never have made the secret documents public, particularly the one committing the entire alliance to the support and sustenance of a military junta in Egypt.

It also underscores that the Qatar blockade is nothing to do with “terrorism,” but rather reflects the sense among the blockading states that Qatar is not sufficiently committed to the collective authoritarian bent of the GCC.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.