By now if you are an IR geek then you are scratching your head about the situation in the Persian Gulf region……Qatar and Saudis are having a moment of dispute…..Trump has weighed in on Saudis side and condemned the Qataris for their support of terrorism…..debate lines (for now) are being drawn…..
After his, Trump, scathing condemnation of Qatar abd then he authorizes a sell of weapons to the very same country……
Defense Secretary James Mattis and his Qatari counterpart, Defense Minister Khalid al-Attiyah have signed a $12 billion arms deal today in Washington, a move made particularly high-profile because of the ongoing blockade imposed on Qatar by its Gulf Arab neighbors.
The agreement is for the purchase of a number of F-15 fighter jets, a sale which the Pentagon says will ensure that Qatar has “state-of-the-art” defensive capabilities. Qatar is the richest nation on the planet in per-capital GDP, but a very small nation to be spending $12 billion on warplanes.
Over the past couple of decades, oil-rich Gulf Arab states have used some of their massive oil revenue to buy US warplanes as sort of prestige pieces to trot out during parades and the like. That tensions are rising between Qatar and the other nations, who have their own large fleets of US warplanes, but this purchase in a totally different context.
So what is the rest of the story?
Ambassador from the United Arab Emirates suggested the US should move their base out of Qatar to “pressure” them. That, it seems, is not under serious consideration from the Pentagon.
So is it about the US base location? Or about the support for terrorism?
Could it be more geopolitical than we are told?
The intra-Arab rift that has set Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt against Qatar is now in its second week. A feud that seemed to begin as a principled stand against Doha’s support for terrorism—one flash point was Qatar’s recent payment of nearly $1 billion to Iran and to Sunni extremists to liberate a hunting party held captive in Iraq— now appears to be something else.
The diplomatic crisis splitting the Gulf Cooperation Council isn’t really about Sunni extremism, or Qatar’s easy flirtation with Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Thus it has nothing to do with the larger issues shaping American foreign policy and the role of our GCC allies in implementing it. No, it’s just Abu Dhabi waging political warfare against Doha with a specific goal in mind—to get the United States to move its military base from Qatar to the UAE.
As an IR geek this is just too damn interesting to pass up.
The question now is….will this situation have a possible diplomatic solution?
If it does then the US may well not have anything to do with the solution…..the top US diplomat in Qatar has resigned because of the wonky Trump foreign policy.
Confrontation appears to be in the wind…will calmer heads prevail?