The situation involving the Saudis and the Qataris is still raging…. and of course the president has to mouth his opinion, which does not help the situation….after all Qatar was considered a source of investment not long ago fpr the Trump Group…..
Donald Trump, his daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner all repeatedly sought financing for various investments in recent years from leading figures in Qatar, according to sources with direct knowledge of the meetings.
Those previously unreported overtures have taken on new relevance as a diplomatic crisis aggravated by President Trump has left the small Gulf nation blockaded and isolated by its rivals, with tensions in the Middle East reaching historic highs.
President Trump on Friday characterized Qatar as “historically” a “funder of terrorism at a high level,” an accusation that came just an hour after his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appealed for “no further escalation” in the Gulf Cooperation Council squabble, urging dialogue to quickly resolve the crisis, which pits Qatar against Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, and Bahrain. Tillerson noted the Qatari emir “made progress in halting financial support and expelling terrorist elements from his country,” comments echoed by the U.S. ambassador to Qatar, Dana Smith, who tweeted “Qatar is a strong partner in combating terrorist financing.”
The problem is, with the president’s help, the Saudis are a destabilizing force, more so than normal….forcing countries to basically….pick sides…..in essence they, the Saudis, are trying to set up a hegemonic control of the region….
Saudi Arabia is making a drive to become a regional hegemon. It has long used its oil wealth to achieve a great deal of influence among neighbors, of course. But it is now flexing military muscles. From a Saudi point of view, they have suffered decades of dangerous reversals, and they are determined to push back foes and ensure not just their security but their control.
The dangers the Saudis see include the revolutionary, Shiite Islam of Khomeinist Iran. It is not only a hated rival branch of Islam but Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who came to power in 1979, said “there are no kings in Islam.” It is republican with a small ‘r.’ The Saudis hate it just as the Austro-Hungarian emperors hated the French Revolution. Inasmuch as Hizbullah in Lebanon adopted Khomeinism and is close to Tehran, it is also seen as a threat by the Saudis. The anti-Wahhabi, Zaydi Shiite Houthi movement in Yemen has made the error of imitating Hizbullah and speaking of overthrowing the House of Saud in Riyadh, and Saudi Arabia has gone to war against the Houthis in Yemen. The Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, dominated by Alawite Shiites who are secular socialists, is seen as an enemy mostly because it is allied with Iran (the Saudis used to support the al-Assads back in the 1970s and 1980s). The Saudis have supported radical fundamentalist guerrillas in Syria such as Jaysh al-Islam.
This embrace of the Saudis as the “power” of the Middle East could prove to be a dangerous move for the US……Hell even conservatives see the problems brewing…..
Emma Ashford notes Trump’s obliviousness to the costs of siding with the Saudis and Emiratis in the Qatar crisis:
Indeed, despite these concerns – and despite the efforts of Tillerson, Mattis and others to mediate the dispute, and to walk back the President’s rash tweets – Trump himself appears determined to publicly take the Saudi side in this dispute and force unity within the GCC. In doing so, he risks raising regional tensions, and complicating the anti-ISIS campaign that was the cornerstone of his campaign.
Foreign policy often requires trade-offs. It is no doubt possible that long-term pressure from regional states may induce Qatar to scale back the scope of its foreign policy. But this will come at the cost of other U.S. foreign policy objectives in the region.
How all this shakes out is still up to speculation….but I see nothing good coming from this silliness.