The End of the GCC Crisis



I have published a policy piece in Al-Monitor titled "Concerns Over Finances, Not Iran, Will End Qatar Crisis." It argues, as the title implies, that economic considerations in the blockading countries are likely to be the primary motivator of the (perhaps impending) end to the Qatar embargo, rather than common Arab Gulf fear of an increasingly belligerent Iran.

This is because the Qatar blockade has created a split in the GCC fiscal reform agenda, with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain moving forward with unpopular austerity measures -- especially direct taxation -- while Qatar, Kuwait, and Oman have deferred structural changes to the rentier state. The result is a sort of "good cop/bad cop" dichotomy in the Gulf, where some GCC citizens continue to live under the previous, relatively more generous economic regime while others do not. The close GCC fiscal policy coordination of 2015-2017, which was meant precisely to avoid such discrepancies that could lead to popular impressions of unfairness and relative deprivation, has been entirely undermined by the blockade.

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