Qatar in Trouble, Saudis Itching for Conflict
Qatar in Trouble Because of a Fake News Story Supporting Relations With Iran
Saudi Arabia is dominated by an age-old pact with the Wahabi sect, the most conservative and violent sect of Islam. Because of that Saudi Arabia has donated huge sums to religious and radical groups around the world, often fostering violence.
The Wahabi are Sunni, and the Iranians are Shiite. The two have a historic feud that has lasted and stained the soil of Muslim nations with blood for centuries.
So when a fake news story came out suggesting that Qatar is encouraging better relations with Iran, the Saudis determined to try to isolate Qatar and ban its ships and airplanes. This was done under the guise that Qatar is a terrorist sponsor straining the bonds that hold the Arab word together. Saudi leaders accusing Qatar of supporting militant groups? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.
THIS CONFLICT MAY BE MORE ABOUT COMPETITION OF SAUDI ARABIA AND IRAN THAN ABOUT QATAR.
Remember, Saudi Arabia wants domination and control of the region. It is easy for the Saudi and Wahhabi radicals that guide much policy there to see that Iran is in transition; it's youth and politics are trending to progress and it is just a matter of time before Iran shakes off the shackles of a "religious theocracy" to become a progressive nation. Saudi is fearful that Qatar will become a friend of Iran and threaten the Saudi Wahhabi chokehold on several Middle Eastern nations. Saudi's oil reserves are in decline. Iran is just recovering slowly from a 40-year economic disaster due to its "revolution" and religious leadership. Iran's emerging leaders are more forward thinking than ever. The Saudis don't want a progressive Islamic nation in their backyard, because progressive leaders in the region could leave other nations behind in growth and influence.
Of course there may be some irritation in Saudi Arabia that Qatar has been booming and expanding economically. Perhaps the Saudis would like to destroy Qatar's success and even its existence. We do not believe that President Trump realizes the risk of new conflict, and his actions and words have made this situation more dangerous. Qatar has the highest per capita income in the world, and for its size Qatar wields disproportionate influence. It is now the third richest nation (perhaps even richer) in the region. Qatar hosts Aljazeera, giving it additional influence in the Muslim world. In some ways Qatar is more progressive than Saudi Arabia. Qatar has a huge economic exchange with the U.S. and the West and more than 10,000 American troops are stationed there. On a spiritual and historic cultural level, perhaps the "glowing orb" (crystal ball of Saudi Arabia) has given the Saudis and Trump some kind of ill omen when they think of Qatar that ultimately leads to the conflict and anger Saudi Arabia has toward Iran. The image has powerful symbolic power to a Middle Eastern mind set, when to the American mind set, it was just a grand opening photo op.
Turkey, Germany and business leaders of the USA are trying to end this feud.
Turkey's prime minister says his country will press ahead with efforts to try and end a standoff between Qatar and its Arab neighbors through dialogue.
In a speech to his ruling party's legislators Tuesday, Binali Yildirim also said that the nations should not allow 'unfounded news reports' to tarnish relations. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (formerly CEO of EXXON) called for the blockade to end, but within just a few hours, his boss Trump contradicted him and endorsed the blockade.
The spark that lit this Saudi/Qatar feud was a “fake news” reference to Qatar saying that its state-run news agency and its Twitter account were hacked to publish a fake story claiming the emir, Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad Al Thani, had called Iran a "regional and Islamic power that cannot be ignored."
State-linked media in Saudi Arabia ignored Qatar's denial and continued to report the comments. It appears that the Saudis are eager for a fight. But the deeper reason is that the Saudis are vindictive to anyone who seems to want peaceful dialogue with Iran. Iran and Saudi Arabia are like oil and water, they do not mix well.
We wonder if Saudi is a bit jealous. Qatar now boasts the highest annual per capital income in the world at $149,000 for every man. woman and child in the county. Qatar has created a trading bonanza of new wealth in oil and natural gas reserves. Qatar is huge in shipping and trade. Qatar makes Abu Dhabi or Dubai seem old and traditional by comparison. Of course the antics of the glowing orb and sword dance when Trump was in Saudi Arabia were noticed in the Muslim world, and the symbolism which may have escaped Trump was acutely understood in Qatar and Iran.
In the meantime, many nations with extensive trading agreements with Qatar are confused by the American stance.
Germany's foreign ministry says it is trying to understand the U.S. position on the Gulf crisis after Saudi Arabia and other nations cut ties to Qatar.
Making things worse, the Saudi move to sever diplomatic relations with Qatar may threaten the future a of a large U.S. military base. People in the Pentagon are incredulous in light of President Trump contradicting Secretary of State Tillerson and supporting the boycott pressed by Saudi Arabia. In Berlin, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Martin Schaefer said Wednesday that while statements from the U.S. State Department were in line with Germany's position, "I can indeed see differences in some 140-character comments by the American president." Schaefer told reporters that German diplomats were in touch with State Department and National Security Council to clarify the U.S. stance. We must wonder if the President of America is still under the influence of the "glow of the shining orb." Strange that Trump has an approval rating so low that he has to go to Saudi Arabia to find friends (but only if the U.S. will allow the Saudis to buy American weapons).
In the meantime people from Qatar have been ordered to leave Saudi Arabia, all shipping, flights and interchange has been suddenly banned. Flights and ships from Qatar now have to fly around Saudi Arabia because they are banned from even flying over Saudi airspace. In short, we at Boothe Global Perspectives suggest this could get a little dicey for the Middle East. Experts believe it is one of the largest potential conflicts of the Middle East -- two enormously wealthy nations shaking swords while Iran is drawn in by comments and an unprecedented terrorist attack by Sunnis coming "by coincidence" the day after this boycott happens.