Thursday, June 8, 2017

Now as most of my readers know, I voted for Donald Trump, as well as I voted for Barack Obama in 2008.  This is one reason I do not see a difference between democrats and republicans. Moreover, my voting for whomever doesn’t come with me supporting them just because they received my vote.  Rather, it requires I speak up objectively about policy and events that occur under their leadership that in my view I consider to be wrong-headed and generally fcked up. The recent severing of all relations with Qatar by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates coincidentally after a visit from President Donald Trump in my opinion is such an event. Supposedly or at least based on media reports, because Qatar has relationships with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas and funds terrorism in the region. Iraq has indicated that they will not be taking sides on this issue.

Saudi Arabia has demanded that Qatar ends these relationships and this has left me scratching my head. Did Trump give a green light for this, knowingly or unknowingly? How far will this go? How will this impact any of the recent OPEC agreements? What could or would the worst-case scenario be? Why now? The fear of other area nations, namely Oman and Kuwait is that tensions may escalate and result in more unforeseen problems for all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, maybe even a possible break-up of the GCC.

So far the Saudi royal family has imposed a naval blockade stopping most if not all of its  maritime trade and more importantly Qatar’s ability to export Liquefied natural gas is natural gas and oil. They have also closed their borders with Qatar, which immediately led to a run-on food the Qatari capital of Doha and suspended the license of Qatar Airways and ordered its banks to sell tall Qatari currency.  The Saudi’s have also ordered their citizens out of Qatar and gave Qataris abroad 14 days to return to Qatar. Now Saudi Arabia has given Qatar 24 hours to fulfill 10 conditions given to Kuwait's emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, who is operating as a mediator between Saudi and Qatar. If Qatar does not conform to the Saudi’s request, will a military operation be on the table for Riyadh?

President Recep Erdogan of Turkey has come out in support of Qatar and questions the validity of the Saudi’s allegations and their effort to isolate Doha. But this isn’t too much of an unexpected position for Erdogan to take, since the ruling AKP party is a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate and both have provided support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and groups currently fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Erdogan has also decided to deploy troops to Qatar after the 24-hour Saudi ultimatum was made. As part of an agreement signed in 2014 Turkey set up a military base in Qatar like the US base in Qatar. In his most recent statement about the growing tensions, Erdogan noted he did not consider sanctions against Qatar as being a good idea and added that in his view, the other nations were trying to impose a “guardianship over Qatar, which is in itself a violation of its sovereignty, and is rejected outright."

Honestly it is a weak argument for the Saudi’s and their supporting cast and Trump needs to seriously monitor and evaluate this situation. Saudi Arabia calling another nation out for funding terrorism is like the pot calling the kettle black. Although Saudi Arabia has provided no proof to support its claims against Qatar, the history books do confirm that the Saudi’s have remained as being one of the biggest sources of funding to so-called jihadi groups going back decades. Notwithstanding that nine of the fifteen 911 terrorist were from Saudi Arabia. So, there must be something else behind this.

Maybe it is Israel.  We all know they have been trying for decades to drive a wedge between the Arab states. True, Israel has worked with Doha and maintains amenable relationships but they have also let it be known of how their authentic feelings about the small nation. Israel may see this as an opportunity to drive a wedge between the Arab states (if the words of defense minister Avigdor Lieberman reflect the position of the Netanyahu administration and their views of all the Sunni Arab countries except for Qatar) who do not see a nuclear Iran as the number one threat in the middle east).

We know there has been bad blood between the Saudi’s and Qatar for decades most likely starting with overthrow of the former Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani by his son. Plus, there are a few other events over the past 20 years have seem to support this position. If I were asked, I’d say this was about the future of the middle east and energy resources. Doha doesn’t agree with the Saudi view of how the middle east should be.  In fact, they have openly shown how the despise the tyrants and dictators in the region including Saudi, Egypt and the Emirates and Qatar is on record for being willing to negotiate with Iran. The Saudi clique on the other hand see a single direction for the middle east which could shape it for many years to come.  They are against and move toward democratic rule which is one reason they hate the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas (which regardless of being terrorist or not, push for bottom up government).  This is something the monarch's fear and a reason why some suggest Saudi pushed for Present Egyptian President El-Sisi to take over Egypt. The Saudi’s have also given the world Salafism and Wahhabism and have been funding every Islamic fundamentalist ultra-conservative movement in support of jihad since the beginning of OPEC. Without the Saudi’s we would have never had Osama bin Laden or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

SiSi served as Egypt’s military attach√© in Riyadh before returning to Egypt. Evidence supports that he was and remains paid and supported by the Saudi government, who used him to overthrow the democratically elected leader of Egypt Mohamed Morsi (again, they fear popular democratic rule and to stop such in Egypt, the had to overthrow the leader the people elected). One could say that it is the desire for the Saudi’s to stop all and every democratic movement in the region and maintain their feudalistic political domination, even if that means war as is evident for their support for bombing even other Sunni nations like Yemen and Syria.  Qatar was very critical of Sisi killing thousands of civilians during his Coup while Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Emirates were silent. Qatar is also anti secularist, dictatorships and unaccountable royals pushing their weight around and they express this openly.

This is about punishing Qatar not terrorism, so what is going on and why now? Qatar is a major energy producer and has become the single biggest natural gas supplier in the region. The offshore North Field, the world’s largest liquid natural gas reservoir which they share with Iran, may also be a causal factor for Saudi Arabia’s new stance. This may be why the Saudi’s acted so abruptly (it can no longer be a step-child of Saudi Arabia based on its increasing financial influence alone). Then there is the little item of Qatar removing a self-imposed ban on working with Iran to work jointly in operating the North Field.  This not only angers the Saudi’s but Israel equally, and only worsen the fact that the government in Doha has refused to sign on to the Saudi-Israel alliance (against Iran).

If the Trump team is smart, they may be able to take advantage of the good relationship the US military has with Qatar to squash this nonsense. As it stands, no one knows were Trump stands other than a few tweets which in my observation are just pouring gasoline on an already burning part of the globe. First Trump applauded the actions against Qatar, but later stressed the need for unity by the GCC during a phone call with Saudi King Salman. Moreover, Qatar is the location of al-Udeid air base, the U.S. largest airfield in the region were all missions for Syria are originated.

So, I don’t have the answers, but it interesting to think about and I would rather occupy my mind with this than nonsensical Russia Trump collusion BS.  I feel that Qatar will be alright and that nations including but not limited to Iran, Russia, China, and Turkey will jump to fill the void. I also see this as a fight among two versions of extreme Islam and as the Saudi’s overtly showing their fear for a Shia dominated middle east. I worry about Saudi military intervention in Qatar but do not fear of any Saudi annexation and occupation of Qatar: Qatar shares largest natural gas field in the world with Iran, and they won’t allow an occupation or invasion to happen.

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