Qatar and the Gulf Crisis

February 2020 9781787382077 348pp
EU Customers


In 2017, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Qatar, launching an economic blockade by land, air and sea. The self-proclaimed ‘Anti-Terror Quartet’ offered maximalist demands: thirteen ‘conditions’ recalling Austria-Hungary’s 1914 ultimatum to Serbia. They may even have intended military action.

Well into its second year, the standoff in the Gulf has no realistic end in sight. With the Bahraini and Emirati criminalisation of expressing support for Qatar, and the Saudi labelling of detainees as ‘traitors’ for their alleged Qatari links, bitterness has been stoked between deeply interconnected peoples. The adviser to the Saudi crown prince advocating a moat to physically separate Qatar from the Arabian Peninsula illustrates the ongoing intensity—and irrationality—of the crisis.

Most reporting and analysis of these developments has focused on questions of regional geopolitics, and framed the standoff in terms of its impact on (largely) Western interests. Lost in this thicket of commentary is consideration of how the Qatari leadership and population have responded to the blockade. As the 2022 FIFA World Cup draws closer, the ongoing Qatar crisis becomes increasingly important to understand. Ulrichsen offers an authoritative study of this international standoff, from both sides.


‘This account moves from origin to (almost) conclusion, capturing how badly [economic and political embargoes] backfired, strengthening Qatar’s independence and global standing.’ — The New York Times, ‘5 Books to Read About Qatar Before the World Cup’

‘[Qatar and the Gulf Crisis is] a detailed and thoughtful book.’ — The World Today

‘A rich and valuable resource for readers wanting to understand the intricacies of one of the most critical junctures in recent Gulf history.’ — International Affairs

‘Ulrichsen has written an essential book for anyone looking for an entry into the Gulf crisis or for a comprehensive read on this regional tension … Qatar and the Gulf Crisis [presents] a compelling and consistent summary of abundant information.’ — LSE Review of Books

‘A brilliant account of the history, origins and evolution of the Gulf crisis—drawing meticulously upon media and academic sources, and direct interviews with leading protagonists in the region, Ulrichsen once again confirms himself as an outstanding observer of Gulf politics today.’ — Adam Hanieh, SOAS University of London, author of Money, Markets, and Monarchies: The Gulf Cooperation Council and the Political Economy of the Contemporary Middle East

‘Ulrichsen draws on an impressive range of sources in order to provide a panoramic account of contemporary power politics across the Gulf. This important and timely book deserves to be read by anyone seeking to understand the intricacies of the Qatar diplomatic crisis.’ — Gerasimos Tsourapas, Senior Lecturer in Middle East Politics, University of Birmingham


Kristian Coates Ulrichsen is Fellow for the Middle East at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, and an associate fellow of Chatham House’s Middle East and North Africa Programme. His books with Hurst include Qatar and the Gulf Crisis and Centers of Power in the Arab Gulf States. He supports West Ham.

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