It is June 10, 2017 in the US and another day has ended in Qatar. Things are getting worse. From Saudi Arabia, the strategy is escalation not reconciliation.
Make no mistake about it- This is not 2014. This is not a diplomatic rift. Further, I don’t believe it is really about terrorism, at least the Sunni-based al Qaeda, ISIL, and a host of other groups, which have motivated lone wolf attacks in Europe and the US.
Perhaps the most bizarre part of the daily events was Donald Trump’s tweets early in the crisis where he is actually takes credit for the crisis, siding with the Saudi’s. The Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, did just the opposite, stating we would work with all parties in reconciliation. This was almost immediately contradicted by President Trump, who seemed to support Saudi Arabia pressuring Qatar to stop supporting terrorism. Russian FM Lavrov has step in as the negotiator of the crisis.
Imagine that, Lavrov and Tillerson with similar position, and Trump seeing this as an extension of his trip and comments that the Middle East countries need to cut funding of extremist groups, allied with Iran. (see links below) Kuwait is likely will play also role as a negotiator between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. But with so many countries now cutting ties with Qatar, it is escalating every day.
I believe the Houti attacks in Yemen are still Saudi Arabia’s main focus. They knew exactly how to play Trump in directing his focus to Iran, as the key player.
Right now, Qatar needs food and water, which Turkey has agreed to bring in by air. Iran also offered assistance, but Qatar smartly declined this assistance.
Syria is unable to supply LNG to UAE, so Shell is making the deliveries. What’s next? Saudi Arabia is trying to economically attack Qatar by restricting access to its air space. If the other Gulf countries join in, they could cripple Qatar Air.
The other target is the Al-Jazeera news networks. In my opinion, it is one of the best at “old fashion” journalism, getting the facts quickly and accurately. Going lean on commentary and strong on onsite reporting, keeps their reporting honest. It is not what Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain or UAE want. However, I don’t see how Qatar could ever agree to rein in Al Jazeera.
The Trump administration through the US Secretary of Defense, General Mattis finally acknowledged that the Saudi Arabian blockade would make operations in the US airbase in Qatar difficult, and hurt their anti terrorist activities against ISIL What is at stake is the break up of the GCC and countries having to align themselves only with Saudi Arabia or Iran. It will lead to more chaos in the area.
Qatar could cut natural gas supplies to UAE, causing enormous electrical shortages. Nothing good will come of this, as the UAE will then need to retaliate.
Exactly how a deal could be struck to resolve this crisis is uncertain. Right now, Qatar is bracing for the worse. The US has military bases in both Bahrain and Qatar, and strong commercial interests throughout the Persian Gulf, so really we can’t afford to pick sides.
Wikipedia: Qatar in Crisis
Al Jazeera: Qatar Diplomatic Crisis: Latest Updates