Fishing incident hints at strained Qatar-Bahrain relations

Recent news reports reveal a stormy relationship between Bahrain and Qatar after Qatar released three sailors from Bahrain who had entered the country's territorial waters.
According to Gulf News reports, the sailors were fishing on Aug. 13 when they were arrested by a Qatari guard.
The Gulf News article provides the testimony of one of the sailors, as interpreted through a relative, that talks about hearing gunshots and encountering a Qatari patrol that asked them to put up with detainment “just to sign a pledge.”
According to the sailor, a Qatari public prosecutor decided to hold the group for four days.
The idea of controversy over Qatar’s territorial waters and its icy behavior toward its neighbor might not be new, but the timing of the incident is interesting being that a recent thaw resulted in new diplomacy between Qatar and Bahrain.
Mike Tone, who has a master's degree in international business and experience in the MENA region as a U.S. veteran, told the Gulf News Journal that diplomats from the Gulf Coast countries have been reinstalled in Qatar following a previous pullback in diplomacy over Qatar’s tolerance and possible tacit support for extremist groups.
A November 2014 Reuters piece details the return of diplomats from three GCC countries after a dramatic pullout earlier in the year.
A lot of the rift between countries stems from political ideas that are roiling that part of the globe where, in many areas, religion still holds sway.
“They (Qatar) are seen as supporting Islamist groups.” Toney said.
Describing the current state of affairs, Toney said there was probably a time when the two Gulf neighbors were less likely to quarrel.
“I don't think that they've always had a contentious relationship.” Toney said.
In Toney’s opinion, a lot of the current controversy stems from Qatar’s support, perceived or otherwise, of the Muslim brotherhood that supports the idea of a single universal Muslim state.
“They're trying to create a borderless nation-state.” Toney said. In this theoretical caliphate, he said, religious leadership might “kick out the monarchs” in countries like Saudi Arabia.
In a caliphate, Toney said, the people might look for a successor to Muhammed to run the country.
“They're talking about a religious leader.” Toney said, calling the idea of a central caliphate a kind of socialist idea that appeals to disadvantaged citizens or the man on the street.
“It’s their utopia.” Toney said.
Although the Muslim brotherhood causes a lot of concern in countries like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, they get a lot of credit in parts of the Islamic world because of their donations to charity and other philanthropic efforts, Toney said.
“They're kind of seen as defending the little guy.” Toney said. “They've built schools - they've dug wells.”
Although a caliphate may be a doomed effort, those who support it and those who don’t must learn to live together in a quickly modernizing continent.