The new axis of evil. Why Qatar has become a pariah in the middle East

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain announced that break off diplomatic relations with Qatar. This decision was supported by Libya’s interim government, which is based in the East of the country and is actively cooperating with Egypt and the UAE. It was also announced that Qatar expelled from the Arabian coalition, leading the fight against rebels-Houthis in Yemen.

One of the world’s major exporters of liquefied natural gas risked international isolation and economic blockade. The neighbors of Qatar decided that it was time for him to pay for being too provocative policies in the region. At the same time it is a signal to Iran, with whom Doha maintains close ties. Directly strike on Iran Arab countries are not yet able, and a lot will depend on whose side is Washington.

Little Qatar has long had escaped into a regional leader, claiming not only on economic but also on political influence in the region. In recent years Doha has repeatedly challenged the traditional regional power center — Saudi Arabia — and organised a very unusual policy. Qataris first among the countries of the Persian Gulf publicly spoke about relations with Israel, and in 1996 opened its territory to the Israeli trade mission (later its activities were suspended). Qatar border conflicts with its Arab neighbors, at the same time Doha has close ties with Iran, peacefully sharing with the Iranians right to the largest gas field in the world, North dome / South Pars. In 2003 from Saudi Arabia to Qatar Dominica transferred the main American military base in the region.

Gas American base and influential TV channel “al Jazeera” allow Doha to pursue an active and sometimes aggressive policy in the middle East. There is probably no single Arab country that wasn’t ready to do everything possible to force the “al-Jazeera” to shut up forever. Especially after the role that the channel played in the “Arab spring”, taking on the coordination of protests in Egypt, Libya and Syria. Has not escaped the attacks of the channel and the Saudi regime.

Now, in light of the anti-Iranian campaign launched by Saudi Arabia with the blessing of the new US President Donald trump, Riyadh and Cairo it’s time to get even with Qatar. In addition to the Saudis, who until recently were themselves to trump the target of accusations of supporting terrorism, very useful to translate the arrows on your neighbor.

Which was blamed on Qatar

Qatar was accused of destabilizing the situation in the region, supporting terrorist and extremist activities, and financing groups associated with Iran, and harboring the leaders of the Islamist Association “Muslim brotherhood” and the spread of the ideology of “al-Qaeda” and “Islamic state” (all three organizations banned in Russia). Egypt was even more specific, directly linking Qatar with the terrorist attacks in the Sinai.

Similar accusations are against Qatar, and even the withdrawal of ambassadors of certain countries from Doha has happened before. The last major conflict occurred in March 2014 when Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain withdrew ambassadors from Qatar, claiming that Doha interferes in their internal Affairs. But the threat to Riyadh to begin a land and sea blockade of Qatar and has not been implemented. In November 2014, the ambassadors returned to their seats.

For the young Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, who ascended the throne in June 2013, the crisis was the first serious diplomatic test. Many regional experts noted that the Emir was forced to pay for the policies of his father, who was installed too close relations with Iran. The new Sheikh TA’mim managed to establish a dialogue with Riyadh, and the conflict seems to have been exhausted, but as it turned out, briefly.

This time the blockade of Qatar took seriously. For a country that is almost completely dependent on imports of goods, primarily food, the closure of borders is a serious security threat. It is no coincidence that Doha until quite carefully reacts to attacks in the address and are willing to give a chance to mediators to resolve the conflict.

The role of the negotiators took over Kuwait and Oman, showing that the Gulf monarchies there is a unified position against Qatar. And it’s a chance for Doha.

Mediator role claim, and Turkey, for which Qatar is one of the closest regional allies and partners, so Ankara perceives the incident is very painful. It is exactly the same charges can be presented and Turkey, as the ideology of “Muslim brotherhood” and the ruling Turkish party of justice and development is almost identical to the Egyptian “Brothers” have always thought of Erdogan as their President.

Does not remain aside and Tehran. The Iranians did not hesitate suggested the Qatar food aid.

Trump, hackers, and old scores

The announcement of the rupture of diplomatic relations came after just two weeks after the summits in Saudi Arabia, Arab countries have demonstrated their unity in the presence of President trump. Rather, pretended, because it is in Riyadh sounded the first warnings to Doha. And no sooner had the trump leave the middle East as around Qatar broke the hacking scandal has become, in fact, an open Declaration of information war.

For several months the Arab and American media published materials, which accused Qatar of supporting terrorists and urged the new US administration to carefully look at his ally, whose loyalty is in doubt. There were also proposals to transfer the U.S. military base in Qatar. However, in Riyadh, trump met with the Qatari Emir and confirmed allied relations between the two countries. Sheikh Tamim also participated in all meetings during which the United States and Arab countries have agreed to jointly combat terrorism, including the establishment of centres for the monitoring of the financing of terrorism and promoting extremist activities, as well as establishing a reserve force of the Arab countries to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria. It would seem that idyll.

But in Riyadh, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi made a very clear hint to link Qatar with the terrorists. “All who are supporting the extremists should be considered the same terrorists. Terrorists are not only armed militants but also those who Finance them and teaches new followers of radical groups,” he said.

Regional experts believe that it was about the relations of Qatar with the “Muslim brotherhood”, whose spiritual leader Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi many years living in Doha. Qatar has never concealed that he supports “the Muslim brotherhood” in Egypt, and openly provided financial support to the former President Mohamed Morsi, one of the leaders of the “Brothers”. After the military overthrew Morsi in July 2013, the Qatari-Egyptian relations once again became strained, and in September of the same year in Egypt had prohibited the broadcasting of the TV channel “al Jazeera” as undermining security in the country.

Another disturbing for Qatar the signal came from Riyadh and concerned links Doha with the Palestinian movement Hamas. The headquarters of the movement and its head, Khaled Mashaal moved to Doha from Damascus after the outbreak of the “Arab spring”. During the Arab-Islamic-American summit in Saudi Arabia, the trump called the list of terrorist organizations responsible for violence in the region: Hamas, ISIS, al Qaeda, Hezbollah and other similar groups. The same list, with the exception of Hamas, was announced by Saudi king Salman.

To mention Hamas would make too obvious a nod in the direction of Israel, which the Saudi king can not afford. At the same time in the speech of the monarch, as in all the communiqués adopted in Riyadh, did not hear the traditional Arab and Muslim summits of the words on the right of the Palestinian people and Arabs in General resistance, which usually is associated with Hamas and the Lebanese movement Hezbollah, supported by Iran.

It is obvious that the aim of the meeting in Riyadh was the creation of anti-Iranian coalition. Saudi Arabia sought to assure Washington that is able to lead the war against terrorism in the region. Riyadh also would not mind to regain the American base — this would make the Saudi leadership in the region is undeniable and has helped to maintain the stability of the regime.

Qatari Emir in Riyadh said nothing, in fact, agreeing to the creation of the unit against Tehran. But a few days later, on may 24, the news Agency of Qatar (QNA) gave a sensational statement of the Emir Tamim, in which he inter alia called Iran the guarantor of stability in the region, and Hamas is the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. It was particularly noted that Doha is equally successful in building relations with Iran and with the United States, and located in an American military base Qatar al-Udeid air base not only insulates the Qataris from encroachments by neighbors, but is the only opportunity for the U.S. to maintain military influence in the region. Along the way, the Emir stressed that Qatar was unfairly attacked and accused of having links with terrorists.

Just a few minutes after the words of the Emir went all international agencies, QNA said that his website and his social media was hacked and nothing like the head of state said. But Arab media (especially those that sponsor Saudi Arabia) and regional policy during the day continued to comment on the words of the Emir as if no rebuttal was not. On the official level, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt have blocked the access to the information resources of Qatar, including the website of the TV channel “al Jazeera”. While the Western media continued to discuss how a staunch ally of the US is Qatar.

On the same day broke the hacking scandal in the United States at the seminar on security organized by the Foundation for democracy, hosted a discussion on the relations of Qatar “Muslim brotherhood”. There’s the former U.S. Secretary of defense Robert gates said earlier in the West do not attach importance to the relations of “brotherhood” with other extremist groups, but after the summit in Riyadh, the United States should send to the Emir of Qatar envoy with a list of activities that Doha needs to stop, otherwise, its relations with Washington will be reviewed.

Who is behind the hacking attack on Qatari Agency, is still unknown. Just as there is no evidence that it was hacked. These investigations, which, according to AFP sources, Qatar is helping to the FBI, was supposed to publish this week.

However, the statement of Emir, even being officially a fake, it was convenient to all — and those who wanted to start a media war against Qatar, and Doha, who received the chance to speak about the attacks in his address and at the same time make it clear to Tehran that it has no intention of engaging in confrontation.

But now the conflict has moved into a new phase. Qatar said: either you are with us or against us. And no excuses can not be. Question, what would you choose Doha — frightened of the blockade and will give in to blackmail, or, on the contrary, the incident will push her to an even more active policy in the region. The first reaction of Qatar was very restrained.

Imperfect Middle East

The crisis in the Persian Gulf has alarmed Washington. In fact, before the Qataris, the rupture of relations, commented on U.S. Secretary of state Rex Tillerson. He called on the Arabs to sit down at the negotiating table and to resolve all disputes. The Secretary acknowledged that the irritation between the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf were for a long time and the break of diplomatic relations is a way to solve all problems and to dot the “I”.

US conflict is not needed. It undermines an ideal picture of the Middle East, painted during his visit, trump, when the Arab countries together in unison against the terrorists themselves for their money, defeat all the “bad guys”, and then another, and make peace with Israel. No one took into account that in 55 countries, whose representatives arrived in Riyadh for a meeting with trump, too different interests. The gap with Qatar has shown that there is no unity even within a small organization as the cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Persian Gulf. What can we say about all Arabic and especially Islamic countries. Arab nor NATO nor the Arab military coalition in the long term is impossible.

If the conflict will grow, not only Qatar will have to decide who its allies, and the United States. The allegations against Qatar, which are explanations about the breakup, do not leave the Washington capabilities, and to liaise with Doha, especially to leave Qatari territory of the military base. How can you lead the fight against ISIS and “al-Qaeda”, based in a country which is accused of supporting these structures?

Neighbors Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE in recent years have also not escaped allegations in support of these and other terrorist organizations operating not only in the greater middle East, but also in the USA and in Europe. About the connection between “al-Qaeda” and Saudi Arabia written volumes. Still there are disputes, whose brainchild of IG (resulting from the Iraq division “al-Qaeda”), and whose “dzhebhat an-Nusra” — another branch of “al-Qaeda”, fighting in Syria. Some experts believe that the IG is informally sponsored by Saudi Islamic funds, and “An-Nusra” more Qatar; others argue that the opposite is true. Damascus is equally accused of supporting terrorists on its territory, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Now Riyadh and its allies are trying to blame everything on the Qataris. And they could do it, given the billions of dollars in contracts that were signed during the visit of Saudi trump and American companies. Riyadh is a great ally to lose. Followed by Qatar, according to some experts, will come the turn of Iran. But this is possible only under the condition that trump clearly turns away from Katara, what are a lobbying force in Washington.

But Qatar has the resources to resist exclusion. This year Qatar became the largest supplier of liquefied natural gas to Egypt, dependent on Qatari gas in the UAE and Kuwait. Of course, they can rely on alternative supplies, but whether the need to change supplier Japan, or India, which are the largest importers of Qatari LNG? While Arab countries have not imposed a naval blockade of Qatar, and the Qataris have assured the Japanese side that there are no delays with the execution of the contracts will not.

The question will be decided whether the Arabs to block out the sea transport of Qatar in the Persian Gulf. It would be too high a price for the world economy. And for that you need to really create Qatar the image of a country of the axis of evil, like Iran.

However, until now, when it came to business, Arab countries have found a compromise with anyone, including with Tehran. An example of this is the recent agreement on oil prices within OPEC. But still the conflict in the Persian Gulf region gives reason for concern. Nobody wants war, and so it’s just blackmail and redistribution of power in the region. It would be naive to hope that if Qatar will leave the political arena, it will solve all the problems of the Middle East and will lead to victory over terrorism.