Thursday, June 22, 2017


"The United Arab Emirates has ramped up the pressure on Qatar by saying the decision by Arab states to cut diplomatic and transport links with Doha was a “golden opportunity” to deal with what it alleges is one of the “main sponsors” of extremism in the region. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a regional blockade on Qatar two weeks ago as they accused the gas-rich state of supporting terrorism, triggering the worst crisis in the Gulf region for decades. The dispute, which pits important US allies against each other, has raised concerns that it could escalate in a region already blighted by conflict and instability. Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, said the “harsh” measures imposed on Qatar — which denies that it sponsors terrorism — were necessary to send a “wake-up call for behavioural change”. But the four countries had not put forward specific demands to Doha because they first wanted to receive a “commitment that they [Qatar] will change course”. “Our message to many of the western states is of course the solution has to be diplomatic, but it has to be preconditioned on a change of course,” Mr Gargash said on Friday. “We haven’t seen that yet and until we see that I don’t think anybody is ready for a sort of bazaar of this is what we want.”
Andrew England, "Qatar blockade is ‘golden opportunity’ to halt terrorism". The Financial Times. 16 June 2017, in
"It began as a squabble between Arab allies, but the standoff between Qatar and its neighbours is threatening to engulf the Horn of Africa. When Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and the Maldives declared at the beginning of June that they were severing diplomatic relations with Qatar it appeared to be of interest mainly to the Arabian Peninsula – and the Gulf in particular. The Saudis and their allies accused Qatar of backing international terrorism. The US, which has the Al Udeid air base in Qatar, looked askance, but did little more than use its good offices to try to ensure that the war of words did not flare into an open conflict. But the countries just across the Red Sea have found themselves dragged into the dispute. After prevaricating for some time, Eritrea, which had hitherto good relations with Qatar, fell into line with the Saudis and broke ties with Qatar".
Martin Plaut, "Qatar’s conflict with its neighbours can easily set the Horn of Africa alight". Reaction. 20 June 2017, in
If and only 'if' the House of Saud and their Gulf Arab allies have in the past shown any plausible degree of diplomatic skill and discernment, then and only then, would the diplomatic contretemps in the Arabian Gulf be deserving of support from the Western Powers. Make no mistake: the regime in Qatar is as dreadful in its diplomatic playacting and in its amateurish (but dangerous just the same) support for Sunni extremists in the Near and Middle East, as the Saudis, et. al., now claim. Of course the regime in Qatar may very plausibly counterclaim that the Riyadh has been equally at fault in the playing the very same game, only with more money and worse results for almost forty-years now. The real and pertinent issue in the quarrel between Qatar and the House of Saud is that given the maladroit character of Gulf Arab diplomacy, it would be the very mid-summer of madness to expect anything positive in nature coming out of such a situation. It is highly unlikely that the regime in Qatar will quietly and with good grace bow its head and agree to terms. A more likely scenario is that Qatar will endeavor to invite in Persia to support it in its struggle. Now the very last thing that anyone should wish for is for Persia to become involved in any way whatsoever in the other side of the Gulf. So far it has not occurred in a serous fashion. However, there is a real danger that unless the regime in Qatar decides to call it quits, then they may be forced by events to involve Persia. In short, I have extremely limited (indeed it is more akin to non-existent) faith in Saudi diplomacy and diplomatic skill. As I pointed out only a few months ago in the case of Yemen, the Saudis are simply unable to operate in any erste-world fashion:
"There is nothing in the situation in Yemen from when I first wrote about it back more than eighteen months ago, which the errata-filled Saudi-lead military intervention has not proven to be true. The military intervention other than preventing the Houthi rebels from completing ousting the government of President Abd-Rabbu Hadi, has not achieved any of its original goals. It has not defeated the Houthi, nor has it restored peace and security to this wretched country and its poor people. Instead the Saudi campaign, especially its military campaign has shown itself both ruthless and incompetent. The image that one is left with is that of Air Chief Marshal 'Bomber' Harris of World War II fame being impersonated by P. G. Woodhouse's 'Bertie Wooster'. Added to which is the sordid fact that the Saudi military intervention has perhaps inevitably resulted in a greater role for Persia in the country, as it has gradually increased its support for the Houthi. In short the Saudis have more than lived up to their previous military reputation as incompetent brutes and blunderers" 1.
So unless there is an immediate resolution of this diplomatic equivalent of the clashing of swords, it is best and indeed necessary for the Americans to force a modus vivendi settlement on both sides before matters truly get out of hand.
1. Charles Coutinho, "THE CEASE-FIRE IN YEMEN OR THE HOPED FOR END TO SAUDI MILITARY BLUNDERING". Diplomat of the Future. 18 October 2016, in


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