POOR LITTLE RICH BOYS: Why has Qatar’s neighbors snubbed it?


By Jeff Koopersmith, Editor Emeritus

WASHINGTON DC- 5 June 2017:  A larger than minor storm erupted yesterday within the power structure of the Middle East: Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen all cut ties to one of America’s middle east stars  – Qatar.

The United States has an air force presence in Al-Udeid, Qatar.


This axing led by Saudi Arabia may lead to negotiations or trouble including the United States which maintains a rather large presence in Qatar including ten thousand largely Air Force military, DYNCORP employees to care for this real estate, people and perhaps intelligence – which is not an American Air Base since our people and equipment there are not permanent – Permanence is necessary for America to label this airfield, housing 10,000 or more in reportedly old D-minus trailers, as well as myriad additional military equipment. (a huge investment)

The non-base goes back to the 1960s when Qatar agreed to host 30 men and supplies.  By 2002 the Bush Administration had installed thousands of new people  including aircraft at Al-Udeid Air Base to support Operation Enduring Freedom. The US aircraft, which included F-16 fighters, JSTARS reconnaissance aircraft, and KC-10, KC-130j and KC-135 aerial tankers.

The immediate question which comes to mind is why, just after a very successful trip to Saudi Arabia hosting the Gulf States, would all nations decide to cut the throat of Qatar?  This includes travel between all other nations and Qatar, and worse, delivery of goods across the Saudi border with Qatar include, food, medicine etc. totalling more than 40% of that nation’s need.  Even as of Monday – 4 June – there were runs on food markets and banks ATMS in Doha and elsewhere in the nation.

Even more interesting is that Secretary of State Tillerson said “We certainly would encourage the parties to sit down together and address these differences.” So now we know,  at least, that the State Department would like to see a settlement of the disputes between Qatar and its sister nations.

Or do we?  Did President Trump discuss the problems surrounding Qatar with the other Gulf leaders while in Saudi Arabia?  Is the White House thinking about moving this base’ operations to another country or are the disagreements only between Qatar and its neighbors?”  This remains unclear as of this writing.

Qatar,a tiny nation, sits today with no Gulf  airlines landing in its capital or otherwise and sits cut off from trade for the time being while I assume that Qatari citizens are now stranded in other Gulf nations until making other arrangements.  Qatari  living in other Gulf Nations have two weeks to move out.

Saudi Arabia claims its participation here is to “protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism.”  Is Qatar supporting those elements in Saudi Arabia?  This is unclear, yet Qatar has been active in two wars against Iran, in the Saudi Arabian-led war against the Iranian-backed Houthi group in Yemen, and in the rebel fight against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, who is supported by Tehran. So what gives?

Qatar tells us that its website and email were “hacked” to show insults to the Saudi royal family and others in that country.  The Saudis do not seem to believe this Qatari explanation.

Qatar, is a Muslim-majority country with Islam as its state religion and is the only nation sharing Salafi Sunni version of Sunni Islam making Qatar one of two Salafi states in the Islamic world – The other is Saudi Arabia,

The Saudi government also claims that Qatar’s open media position also insulted Washington with regard to Iran policy saying Mr. Trump might not be in power for long. Qatar denied these comments again saying it has been the victim of a “cybercrime.”

All the Arab gulf states, save for Bahrain – run by Sunnis have been upset with Qatar because it supports the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere via AlJazeera one of the five media sources trusted worldwide by connoisseurs of news reporting. In Europe, for instance, this reporter relied heavily on AlJazeera except for news re Israel for years – not trusting American sources including CNN International and others.  And let me add that at least two other Sunni-led Gulf states have also, along with Qatar, allowing funding of militant Islamist groups fighting now in Syria and some say does Saudi Arabian citizens.

Finally Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen claim that Qatar is involved in conspiracies with rival Iran.

Qatar has actively participated in two wars against Iran, in the Saudi Arabian-led war against the Iranian-backed Houthi group in Yemen, and in the rebel fight against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, who is supported by Tehran. So this too seems to be less than understandable.

There is also the Four Towns agreement in Syria which was negotiated with Iran and Hezbollah to move civilians amidst warring factions in Syria would be moved to other areas in the region.  Some in the Gulf believe this is a terrible move as it moves civilians according to sect.

President Trump made it clear while in Saudi Arabia — that confronting Iran permits the United States – or its president  to ignore human rights violations which the Saudi’s and other states support happily.

“We certainly would encourage the parties to sit down together and address these differences,” Mr. Tillerson said.

One source suggested that the American air base in Qatar will be moved elsewhere in the Gulf, or that civilian contracts by the Air Force and the Pentagon will not be renewed.  Others have said that the White House is furious about the supposed reporting by Al Jazeera that President Trump would not be around  much longer which, remember, Qatar’s prodigy – Al Jazeera – would never say in my opinion.

If the arguments continue the Saudi government might call for business interests headquartered or located in Qatar choose another location – all this while that nation, Qatar, is preparing to host the 2022 World Cup as part of huge construction ramp up including colleges and museums for its population.

At this writing I have no reliable answers to the Gulf states move against Qatari interests. However inasmuch as Qatar is now in a precarious position I might guess that this problem will be solved according to the wishes of these state leaders and Secretary Rex Tillerson promptly as troubles in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and Yemen continue to simmer.