World View: Saudi Arabia and Other Arab Nations Cut Ties with Qatar in Another Mideast Crisis

Qatar Airways

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations cut ties with Qatar in new Mideast crisis
  • Arab nations’ split caused by Qatar’s relations with Muslim Brotherhood and Iran

Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations cut ties with Qatar in new Mideast crisis

Doha, Qatar, skyline
Doha, Qatar, skyline

As I reported two weeks ago, years of bitter relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar came out in the open when Trump’s Mideast visit triggered a sharp split between the two supposed allies.

On Monday, the split widened much further, with hostile words being replaced by hostile actions. Saudi Arabia broke diplomatic relations with Qatar, closed the land border between the two countries, and closed Saudi airspace to any airline flights to or from Qatar.

Other Arab nations immediately followed suit. Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) also broke relations with Qatar and imposed similar economic sanctions. The countries all ordered their citizens out of Qatar and gave Qataris abroad 14 days to return home. The island nation of Maldives announced later Monday that it, too, would cut ties to Qatar.

If the diplomatic conflict continues, the economic impact on Qatar is expected to be enormous. Qatar has only one land border, the one with Saudi Arabia, and 99 percent of all Qatar’s food, as well as other supplies, come through that border. The announcement immediately triggered a panic in Qatar, with people in supermarkets buying up all available food, in anticipation of food shortages and high inflation. It is estimated that Qatar has only three days’ worth of food supply on hand in the country.

Some analysts are predicting that Qatar will have to give in to Saudi Arabia’s demands to end the crisis. Other analysts believe that the split may destabilize Qatar’s government, making a coup likely. However, other countries in the region, including Kuwait, Oman and Turkey, are calling for restraint, and are offering to mediate to resolve the dispute. AP and Al-Jazeera and Washington Post and Bloomberg

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Arab nations’ split caused by Qatar’s relations with Muslim Brotherhood and Iran

As I described in my lengthy analysis two weeks ago, the same countries recalled their ambassadors from Qatar in March of 2014, although diplomatic relations were restored later that year. At that time, there was an extremely bitter split among the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which is an organization of Arab nations (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)) on the Arabian Gulf. The reasons for the split then are the same as the reasons for the split now: Qatar’s relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and with Iran.

Although Qatar cannot be considered an ally of Iran, there are reasons why Qatar wants to have good relations with Iran. One reason is that there over a million Hindu migrants working in Qatar, and Hindus have historically had good relations with Shia Muslims. Another reason is that Qatar and Iran share the biggest natural gas field in the world, making Qatar the world’s top liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter, and with Iran expanding its own LNG exports with the Western sanctions removed.

These reasons do not make Qatar and Iran allies, but they do mean that Qatar has to get along with Iran, at a time when the relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia are becoming increasingly vitriolic.

Qatar’s relations with the Muslim Brotherhood have also contributed to split. There are two competing schools of conservative Sunni Muslim ideology. Extreme versions of either of these competing ideologies are used to justify Sunni terror acts.

One is the Salafist Wahhabi ideology, which has its roots in Saudi Arabia, and is the official Saudi religion. The other is the Muslim Brotherhood ideology, which has its roots in Egypt, and is strongly supported by Qatar and Turkey. Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, so Qatar supports Hamas as well.

Although the two ideologies have succeeded in coexisting for decades, they have been growing apart, and the differences are now coming to a head. The differences have been exacerbated by a number of events, including the 2013 Egypt government coup that removed the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohammed Morsi, the 2014 Gaza war between Israel and Hamas, and civil war in Syria.

European and American governments have been pressuring the Saudi government to do something to stop terrorism by al-Qaeda linked groups or by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). According to some analysts, the reason for the split between Saudi Arabia and Qatar is that the Saudis are using Qatar as a scapegoat in response to that pressure.

However, now that the split has occurred, it seems likely that the pressure will go in the opposite direction. Doha, Qatar’s capital city, is a major airline hub, and the Saudi sanctions have thrown airline schedules in the entire region into chaos. There are 200,000 Egyptian workers in Qatar, and they will have to be withdrawn within two weeks, causing further chaos around the region. The economic sanctions on Qatar are going to affect the economies of the entire region. And the split is going to push Qatar closer to Iran.

As I’ve written many times, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. With appropriate generational research and analysis, the split between the Wahhabis and the Muslim Brotherhood can be used to determine which ethnic groups will be fighting each other. I certainly don’t have anything like the resources to perform such an analysis by myself, but any college student interested in this kind of analysis could make an invaluable contribution to understanding what’s going on in the world today by taking on, as a thesis topic, a generational analysis of the tribes and ethnic groups in the Mideast. Al Arabiya and AP and BBC and Israel National News (13-May-2014)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, UAE, Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Turkey, Mohammed Morsi, Egypt, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Iran, Gaza, Hamas, Syria
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