The Saudi-led Qatar blockade was a miscalculated move that lacked strategy and backfired, the former head of Britain’s Foreign Office Middle East desk said.
The decision to impose an all-out blockade and sanctions on the tiny Gulf emirate backfired, Sir William Patey said, noting instead of the intended regime change, the blockade had in fact boosted the Emir’s support across the country.
“This has all the hallmarks of a policy that has not been thought through. It does not smack of a considered strategy,” Patey said at roundtable discussion in London organised by the Conservative Middle East Council on Saturday.
“It is not a smart move even if you are sympathetic to their vision. It is a short cut to achieve something quickly and I think they miscalculated and I think they did think that with Trump behind them, Qatar would back down.
“They raised these stakes because they thought Qatar would back down in the end, so I think they were a bit surprised,” he said, noting “the Qataris are rallying round their leadership”.
Saudi Arabia, along with the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, imposed a boycott on Qatar since June 5.
They have imposed sanctions on Doha, including closing its only land border, refusing Qatar access to their airspace and ordering their citizens back from Qatar.
The alliance issued a 13-point ultimatum to Qatar last month, which included demands to close a Turkish military base, shuttering al-Jazeera media network, and ending relations with Iran.
Qatar called the demands “unreasonable” and said it infringed on its “sovereignty”.
But Patey, who also served as the former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia said the motive surrounding the dispute was not Qatar’s alleged funding to terrorism, but a region-wide political vision.
“This is about the Muslim Brotherhood. It is a battle for the future of the Middle East,” he said.