Saudi-led efforts to isolate Qatar because of its support of the Muslim Brotherhood have expanded to exploit criticism of labour conditions in the Gulf state in advance of the 2022 World Cup.
The GCC is in a predicament and a state of division, and is facing the shadow of disintegration, which is desired by Iran, Israel, and perhaps also the U.S. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's attacks on Saudi Arabia are but a part of the strategy to dismantle the GCC, to pave the way for the Iranian vision for a new security arrangement and alternative policy on Syria.
In addition to the discriminatory laws practiced against the minorities, the ethnic Arab community has also been subjected to disproportionate exclusion from economic, social and political development.
Saudi Arabia's recent announcement, that it (along with fellow GCC countries Bahrain and the UAE) would recall their ambassadors to Doha, was quite understandable; though it could be argued that this measure is unlikely to be effective in ultimately curing Qatar from what seems to be a severe case of "Small State Syndrome."
Saudi Arabia has threatened to blockade its neighbouring Gulf State Qatar by land and sea unless it cuts ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, closes Al Jazeera, and expels local branches of two prestigious U.S. think tanks, the Brookings Doha Center and the Rand Qatar Policy Institute.
Qatar has been fighting an uphill battle to limit substantial damage to its reputation in the wake of its winning in 2010 of the right to host the 2022 World Cup as a result of criticism of the working and living conditions of its foreign workers.
The January 2010 assassination in Dubai of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a cofounder of the military wing of Hamas, briefly drew international attention to the man who went on to investigate it: Lt. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Dubai's long-serving chief of police.
The longer it takes Qatar to address fundamental issues, the more international criticism of its labour environment will fester, and the more difficult it will be for Qatar to achieve a key goal of its hosting of the World Cup and its overall investment in sports.
This is hardly how Qatar would have wanted to do it, but the Gulf state has unwittingly contributed to a potential improvement in the governance of soccer and word sports as a result of mounting controversy over its labor standards.
FIFA publicly joined the fray following reports last fall in Britain's The Guardian and other media detailing a high death rate among workers and appalling living and working conditions
A perceived lack of real progress in the improvement of conditions for foreign labour, aggravated by a Qatari reluctance to engage in public debate beyond platitudes, is undermining the soft power goals underlying the Gulf state's sports strategy.
Even as Hamas gradually restores its relationship with Iran and Hezbollah, some of its officials still wave the Free Syrian Army (FSA) flag.
When it comes to the sensitive issue of Jerusalem and recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, Arab leaders have proved, over and over, that they will not budge under American pressure, and Abbas knows this well.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the hopes in 2011 of a new dawn sparked by the toppling of autocratic leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen were little more than pie in the sky. Nevertheless, the genie of inevitable change has been let out of the bottle.
One man who has been working extensively in both Doha and Abu Dhabi is Palestinian filmmaker Scandar Copti. I caught up with the filmmaker to interview him for my piece on cinema in the Gulf featured in Shawati' Abu Dhabi.
The last decade has seen an unprecedented interest and massive growth in higher education in the oil rich Middle East. In particular, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE have invested substantially in creating or attracting higher education institutions from the U.S., Canada and Europe to set up local campuses.