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Home Current Saudi News & Analysis Settling Scores with Qatar in the Guise of Defeating Terrorism

Settling Scores with Qatar in the Guise of Defeating Terrorism

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Settling Scores with Qatar in the Guise of Defeating Terrorism

CDHR Analysis: The same autocratic Arab and African regimes that the Saudis recruited and led to commit what the UN defined as war crimes in Yemen are now plotting against the Emir of Qatar, Tamim, who by comparison is more progressive and enlightened than the monocracies that are blockading his country. Their intent is to overthrow the Emir and subjugate Qatar’s small population.

Bolstered by the Trump Administration, the three major players in the Saudi-led coalition (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt) thus intend to control Qatar’s domestic and foreign policies, in the guise of starving terrorism and stabilizing the Middle East.

It’s incredibly ludicrous that the Saudi regime and its like-minded cohorts are blockading Qatar, allegedly to defeat terrorist villains, while conscripting war criminals like the President of the Sudan, Omar Hasan Al-Bashir, to inflict death and destruction on the poverty-stricken Yemeni people.

Shouldn’t hiring Al-Bashir’s army to inflict death and destruction in Yemen be considered the pinnacle of terrorism? Hasn’t Saudi Arabia been branded as a financier of Sunni terrorism worldwide and the “Fountainhead of Extremism and Terrorism,” not only by its enemies, but by its closest allies -- including our own eminences, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Trump?

Despite their public pretences, the Saudis’ objectives are plainly to even old scores and in doing so to pummel Qatar into submission.

The Saudi strategy to control Qatar dates from Qatar’s independence from the British mandate in 1971. When British colonial rule ended, the Qatari dynasty rejected a British/Saudi proposal to become part of the Trucial States, which includes Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujair, Ras Al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm Al-Quwain. These are now collectively known as the United Arab Emirates.

After Qatar’s independence from Britain, Saudi Arabia took on the role of “protector” of Qatar.  The Emir took policy directions from Al Saud” (the Saudi kings.)

However, Saudi dominance over the Qatari domestic and foreign affairs suffered when Crown Prince Hamad Al-Thani (the father of the current Emir) deposed his father Khalifa in 1995. Emir Hamad embarked on massive political, social, educational and economic reforms. The Saudis and other Gulf rulers resented this for a variety of reasons. These included their fears that the initial bloodless palace coup could set a precedent to be emulated in their own kingdoms.

The overthrow of Emir Khalifa in 1995 initiated a series of events that led to the current Saudi/Qatari crisis. The Saudis were riled by the defiant new Emir’s pursuit of independent domestic and foreign policies of a sort and scope which, in the Saudi view, threatened their regional and global preeminence, and conceivably their political survival.

One of the first bold and most far-reaching actions that Emir Hamad took was the establishment of the pan-Arab satellite channel Aljazeera in 1996. For the first time in their history, the Arab masses were granted a forum where their voices could be heard and where all subjects and opposing views were discussed freely by provocative personalities, including severe critics of authoritarian Arab regimes, former Muslims, religious extremists, Israeli officials and journalists and harsh critics of Shariah law.

Discussions of Arab regimes’ intolerance, corruption, oppression, institutionalized taboos and inequality could now be watched 24 hours a day. The Gulf Arab rulers have thus accused Aljazeera of being a destabilizing tool used to undermine their dynastic legitimacy and to incite their disenfranchised populations, especially their repressed Shi’a minorities, to revolt.

For example, Aljazeera’s unrelenting and unabashed exposure of the Arab regimes’ tyranny was blamed for the unprecedented Arab mass uprising known as the Arab Spring. This toppled the Saudis’ autocratic allies in Egypt and Tunisia and paved the way for the Muslim Brotherhood to win the Egyptian presidency. The Muslim Brotherhood’s charter calls for the abolition of hereditary rule.

In addition, Qatar adopted a policy of reaching out to all Muslim regimes and groups, including Iran, Hamas, the Taliban, Hezbollah and others. The Qataris have seen this as a defensive, self-preservation practice.  The Saudis, obviously see it as support for the Saudis’ regional hegemonical competitors. The Saudis therefore seized an opportunity to achieve objectives that they had shelved for decades.

This Saudi instigated maneuver is likely to fail or to create another Middle East hot spot where external powers, like Turkey, Iran and Russia, unfriendly to the Gulf rulers and to their Western allies, will take advantage of the current turmoil to advance their own interests and undermine the Americans’.

President Trump, whose unfamiliarity with the complexity of the situation is exceeded only by his eagerness to strike a bold posture, has made a misstep. Qatar hosts the United States’ most important military instillation in the region. This is in part because the Saudis would not tolerate the US presence on their own soil. Instead of heating up rivalries in the Gulf area and becoming more of a partisan than a moderator, President Trump’s impetuosity could result in long term damage to American strategic and economic interests.

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