The Saudi offensive against Qatar and the global intensification of geopolitical conflict

 

The Saudi offensive against Qatar and the global intensification of geopolitical conflict

6 June 2017

Backed by Egypt and its closest Gulf State allies, Saudi Arabia has launched a diplomatic and economic offensive against Qatar, a tiny, energy-rich neighbor. This offensive is aimed at forcing the emirate to fall fully in line with the Saudis’ belligerent stand against Iran and other of its predatory policies, including unstinting support for Egypt’s military regime.

US President Donald Trump gave the Saudi autocracy and its plan to forge a Sunni-Arab military coalition against Iran Washington’s full-throated support when he visited Riyadh last month.

This support, as even many Western news reports on the Saudi-Qatari confrontation acknowledge, has “emboldened” Saudi Arabia. Yesterday, it, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Yemen announced a series of measures against Qatar that stop just short of war.

They include: severing all diplomatic relations, travel, and economic ties with Qatar; denying Qatari aircraft, including all Qatar Airway flights, the right to use their airspace; closing their ports to all Qatari vessels; and shutting down all broadcasts by Qatar-based al-Jazeera.

Saudi Arabia and its closest Gulf State allies are also closing their borders to Qataris and ordering all Qatari citizens currently in their countries to leave within two weeks.

These measures threaten to roil the emirate’s economy. A peninsula state whose only land border is with Saudi Arabia, Qatar is heavily reliant on food shipments from Saudi Arabia. News agencies report that long lines have formed at supermarkets in Doha as residents—fully 80 percent of the 2.3 million people living in Qatar are non-citizen foreign workers—scramble to stock their shelves and…

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