Qatar: Will it bend to Saudi Arabia?
It’s high time Qatar was brought to heel, said Abdulrahman Al-Rashed in Arab News (Saudi Arabia). For years, this tiny Arab state (population 2.7 million) has tried to play both sides of the Middle East’s great divide. Qatar hosts a U.S. military base and pretends to be an ally of its Arab neighbors, yet it has maintained close ties with Shiite Iran and promotes and funds Sunni extremists. The Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, Egyptian-born Yusuf al- Qaradawi, calls Qatar home, as do clerics sympathetic to al Qaida. The country is also behind Al Jazeera, the satellite news network that spreads lies and hatred around the world. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and three other Arab nations have now had enough, said Jamal Banoon in Al Hayat (Saudi Arabia). The countries recently severed diplomatic and transport links with Qatar and ordered its nationals out. Qatar has called the cutoff a siege, noting that some 40 percent of its food imports come from Saudi Arabia, but in fact it is a fully legal boycott. What will happen next is clear: Prices will skyrocket in Qatar, and tourism will wither. Doha will have to “see wisdom” and capitulate: Close Al Jazeera and expel the terrorists.
This outrageous, hostile act will backfire, said Sultan Barakat in AlJazeera.com. Qatar has striven to be open to all, a country where representatives of the Taliban, political leaders from the Palestinian group Hamas, and U.S. generals can all operate. This has allowed Doha to play mediator and “help resolve some of the most intractable conflicts in the region.” The Saudis are clearly upset that Qatar has maintained an independent foreign policy—particularly that it has relations with their archfoe, Iran. But given Qatar’s geostrategic vulnerability— it is a peninsula jutting from Saudi Arabia into the Arabian Gulf just across from Iran, with which it shares ownership of the world’s largest natural gas field—such a policy was essential. Indeed, Saudi bullying shows the wisdom of cooperation with Iran. The blockade will “only hasten Qatar’s efforts to ensure its security and independence from its Gulf neighbors.” Already, Iran is flying in food shipments, while Turkey has deployed troops to its Qatar base.
The Saudis are just doing America’s bidding, said Ibrahim Karagul in Yeni Safak (Turkey). It’s no coincidence that a matter of weeks after President Trump was feted with sword-dancing in Saudi Arabia, a blockade fell on Qatar and ISIS launched twin terrorist attacks in Tehran, killing 17 people. The U.S. is trying to provoke a war between the Shiite and Sunni Muslim superpowers, Iran and Saudi Arabia, so that it can take advantage of the chaos and plunder the region’s oil and natural gas wealth. “No country is going to be able to stay outside this conflict.” The Americans will make us all choose sides: Are you with Tehran or Riyadh? “I am afraid they are going to get the people of the region to destroy the region.” ■