Iranian regime’s crisis has found its way to its Qatari ally, which in turn has put itself in the most difficult dilemma since claiming power in 1996. This means that the Qatari regime has become unable to continue its support for Tehran despite handing over its reins to it and now is reaping the thorns of its wrong policies at a time that is unable to disengage from a regime that is about to collapse.

At the beginning, Doha was bragging of having conspiring relations with Tehran, so it used the Revolutionary Guard and its tools against its Arab brothers. However, its calculations were totally wrong as it did not take much time for Iran to return to the brunt of heavier sanctions and therefore relying on Qatari support. Thus, the Qatari regime found itself paying the cost of Iran’s isolation with billions of dollars, at a time its economy was badly suffering. Instead of being a backer and supporter for it, Tehran rather turned into a burden for Qatar and Doha turned into Iran’s second treasury, which the Revolutionary Guard drains in financing its interventions and supporting its terrorist activities. Qatar is still obliged to protect the Iranian regime and provide support in all its forms, because its fall would mean the loss of Qatar to its most important allies and supporters, and thus further regional and global isolation.

The Revolutionary Guard has made secret deals with the Qatari regime, where the latter offered advantages and concessions to the Iranian side, mainly a share in the revenues of Qatari gas extracted from the North Field shared with Iran, which Tehran has used to circumvent sanctions after the US president decided to withdraw from the nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions and consequently Iran’s inability to extract its share of the gas field shared with Qatar. For this reason, a deal was concluded with the Qatari side to obtain one-third of the gas revenues from this field, which caused a great loss to the Qatari side. For Qatar, this was regarded as a bribe and a price for Iran’s protection to the Qatari regime, as well as Iran’s exploitation of many aspects of trade and investment with Qatar, and what Doha has with other countries in the world, where the Revolutionary Guard uses some of the Qatari companies to complete its suspicious transactions.

In addition, there are many other agreements under which Qatar has allowed its Revolutionary Guards and its intelligence apparatuses to set up bases and operating rooms in Qatari territorial waters, as well as espionage centers in Doha that target Arab communities living in Qatar, and turning a blind eye to a widespread Iranian-sponsored Shiite movement in Qatar targeting these communities, in addition to forcing Qatar to employ a number of Iranians in its economic sectors.

This did not stop there as some of the terms of those agreements between the two countries are making Qatar obliged to provide support and assistance to Iran’s terrorist agents in more than one region, mainly the Houthi group in Yemen and the sectarian militias in Iraq. All this and other in return for Iran’s protection of the Qatari regime from falling.

However, the unprecedented deteriorated situation in Iran, the compliance of the majority of the world’s countries with the US sanctions against Tehran, the decline of the Iranian national currency against the dollar to around 150,000 riyals per dollar, the flight of international companies, investments and capital from Iran, rising prices and unemployment rates, and the near ban on the export of Iranian oil, all the above have led to the collapse of many economic sectors in Iran, and the exhaustion of its treasury and the resources of the country. This made Iran’s need to Qatar bigger than ever and in light of the tightening sanctions on Tehran, this need is on the rise, and the struggling Qatar will not be able to meet these Iranian growing needs, which means the failure to maintain Iranian protection, and near the end of this ill-fated alliance.

Al Mezmaah Studies & Research Centre

20 September  2018