The mash-up between the Saudis and the Qataris are still going full blast….the “demands” by the Saudis have been toned down a bit…but they are still demanding some unreasonable things from Qatar…
The US has their largest military base in the Middle East in Qatar and the Saudi coalition has been trying to persuade the US to close it down and move it elsewhere…..
The latest in a series of moves by President Trump that appeared to throw a wrench into State Department efforts to calm the Qatar blockade situation saw him telling the Saudi King today that the US could well just abandon their largest military base in the Middle East, the al-Udeid Airbase in Qatar.
Officials from the blockading states have previously suggested that the US ought to consider finding an alternative to the Qatar base, as State and Pentagon officials express concern the protracted blockade could start impacting US wars in the region, which are run out of the base.
This is a hugely important base for the US, and that’s a big part of why State Department officials have been so desperate to try to resolve the dispute. President Trump, however, has treated this base with relative ambivalence, and in his talk with King Salman today said he was confident other countries in the region would “gladly” build the US a replacement base if they abandoned Qatar.
This seems like a bit of an overreach by the Saudis…..they want that cash from the US and will do whatever it takes to see the base closed….even helping in the hack that started this whole affair….at the time Qatar said they were hacked and the accusations were untrue…..and then they were vindicated….
In a stunning turn of events, the Washington Post is quoting US intelligence officials as saying that the “fake news” hack which started the Qatar blockade was actually the product of a plot concocted by top leaders of the United Arab Emirates, one of the blockading states.
The officials say US intelligence agencies were able to confirm a May 23 meeting by UAE leaders discussing the plan, and that the very next day, a Qatari state media outlet was hacked, and false quotes attributed to the Qatari Emir were planted there. The quotes praised Hamas and talked up Iran as an “Islamic Power,” and fueled an immediate backlash from Saudi Arabia, as well as its allies.
Qatari officials were quick to note the hack at the time, and brought in the FBI to help. At the time, there was speculation in the media that the US involvement meant Russia was suspected of involvement, though there was never any plausible reason why this might be the case.
The UAE, however, has long-standing grievances with Qatar, as do the other three blockading states, as all object to Qatari media outlets’ coverage offering more conflicting viewpoints than is common within the Middle East.
Pres. Trump has been ignoring the evidence to make the Saudis happy….why?
While it is true that Qatar allows some factions to run an office out of their territory…
It wasn’t accidental, or surprising. Qatar has historically been very open to allowing controversial foreign factions to run offices out of their cities, with groups like Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood finding a welcome in Qatar that simply doesn’t exist elsewhere.
This is also a big part of the foreign blockade against Qatar, as more restrictive nations like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the Egyptian junta don’t take kindly to Qatar playing host to their (often banned) opposition parties, and treat their permission to operate as tantamount to Qatari “support.” With openness to dissenting opinions also pervasive in Qatari media, but literally nowhere else in the Middle East, it’s turned them into something of a pariah.
Another thing to consider is that during the “Arab Spring”…while the more restrictive countries like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and UAE were scrambling to protect their authoritarian rule, Qatar was often on the side of the protesters….thus began their fall from grace among the “kingdoms”.
For this reason should put the US squarely on the side of the Qataris……that is if we truly stand for democracy and freedom…but it appears that the opposite is becoming the norm under the Trump admin.
Time to make a stand!