The biggest challenge facing the Middle East is the “potential domination of the region by an Iran that is both imperial and jihadist,” Henry Kissinger said last year. What he suggest is further isolation of Iran adding that existing US policy, which is very favorable to Iran should be changed.Mr. Trump (following Kissinger’s policy?) has made clear he seeks no opening to Iran and has no interest in building on the Obama administration’s success in reaching a nuclear deal with it.
For the New York Times, Donald Trump, has taken sides with Saudi Arabia and four other Sunni states in their attempt to isolate and bully Qatar, the tiny gulf nation that is arguably America’s most important military outpost in the region .Rather than position the United States to ease tensions in the Middle East, Mr. Trump has, essentially, picked one side in a small rivalry within a big rivalry.
But even if his goal is to isolate Iran, allying with Saudi Arabia to punish Qatar is a self-defeating way to go about it: Qatar is home to the forward headquarters of the United States Central Command and is a major intelligence hub. It hosts Al Udeid Air Base, with more than 11,000 U.S. and coalition forces.
There is no sign that Mr. Trump has actually thought any of this through. Let’s be honest: Donald Trump doesn’t have a clue where Middle East is. New York Times adds that: even as other American officials were saying they would try to calm the Saudis because Qatar was too important to the United States, the president leapt to Twitter to claim credit for persuading Saudi Arabia to act against Qatar.
…extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!
“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology,” he wrote, adding, “Leaders pointed to Qatar — look!” In two other tweets he reinforced this message, saying: “So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding … extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”
For years Riyadh has accused its regional neighbor Iran of interfering in the Sunni kingdom’s affairs in order to destabilize it and expand its own role in the Middle East. The Saudis fear such a development not least because of how it might inspire the deprived Shiite minority in the kingdom’s East, which also happens to be an important source of oil. Iran meanwhile has concerned its neighbors by massively enhancing its influence in Iraq and Syria during the ongoing civil war in the latter country. More than ever, Saudi Arabia sees itself as encircled.
Saudi Arabia has long relied on the UAE and Bahrain as its closest regional allies. Egypt, which counts on Riyadh’s financial support, has also been a consistent partner, though in recent years Cairo has also strengthened its ties with Tehran – much to the annoyance of Saudi Arabia.
According to Al-Monitor,in Jerusalem, it is almost inconceivable to hear the Saudis demand publicly that the Qataris cease their cooperation and aid to Hamas. “It is as though the Israeli-Saudi alliance is suddenly breaking out of its dark confines and being showcased internationally,” an Israeli minister told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “But when the actual statement is analyzed, it quickly becomes obvious that this is not about Israeli interests. It is the continuation of that same old war between Sunnis and Shiites.”
The common explanation in Israel is that Hamas is in the wrong camp, as far as Egypt and Saudi Arabia are concerned. The camp of the Muslim Brotherhood includes Turkey and many Sunni terrorist groups.
Saudi Arabia has threatened to blockade its neighbouring Gulf State Qatar by land and sea unless it cuts ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, closes Al Jazeera, and expels local branches of two prestigious U.S. think tanks, the Brookings Doha Center and the Rand Qatar Policy Institute.
Analysts elsewhere in the Gulf expect the Saudi tactics to backfire. They have already paralyzed the Gulf Cooperation Council, with Oman refusing to expel Qatar and Kuwait deeply uneasy. It is also propelling the start of a significant regional realignment. Within hours of the Saudi decision to withdraw its ambassador to Doha, the Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad in support. Doha has also become closer to Iran as a result of its bust up with Riyadh.
Who is behind the Qatari crisis? Chaos as a strategy?
The Origins of the Qatari crisis: What has happened.
Deep in the Gulf waters between Qatar and Iran lies the world’s largest gas field, a 9,700-sq-km expanse that holds at least 43 trillion cubic metres of gas reserves.
Qatar’s southern portion is known as North Field, while Iran’s slice to the north is called South Pars. The two countries share exploration rights in the area, and it is one of many ties that bind them.
The past few days in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have been dramatic.A longstanding war of words between Saudi Arabia and its oil and gas-rich neighbor Qatar has just exploded into open diplomatic warfare, threatening the US-led fight against ISIS and setting off a new wave of instability in the Gulf region.
Doha’s relationship with Tehran has been put to a new test on Monday, after Iran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia led four other countries in cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing its fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member of undermining security in the region by siding with Iran, among other actions. Riyadh also said “authorities in Doha” have supported the Iran-backed Houthi armed group in Yemen. This despite Qatar’s deployment of an estimated 1,000 troops to support the two-year Saudi-led campaign there, Al-Jazeera reports
The new rift in the Persian Gulf is in and of itself a big deal — it’s already being interpreted by someobservers as the biggest diplomatic crisis in the region since the Gulf War in 1991.
A ticker on Qatar News Agency attributed controversial statements about US President Donald Trump, Iran, Israel and Hamas to Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. The news agency’s Twitter feed also quoted Qatar’s foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, announcing Doha’s decision to withdraw its ambassadors from Egypt and most GCC states.
On Monday, Saudi Arabia and three of its biggest allies — Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain — all announced that they were severing diplomatic ties with Qatar, as well as suspending air, land, and sea travel to and from the country. The move came after Riyadh accused Qatar of backing radical Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS. Since then, Libya, Yemen, and the Maldives have also joined the diplomatic boycott.
After the Saudi block the only open rout for Qatar is through the Iranian Territorial waters to Iraq, Turkey, caspian sea countries, & Assia pic.twitter.com/QvgZb0EcAO
Qatar swiftly disavowed the article as fake news manufactured by hackers, but Saudi and its friends were unconvinced. Then Sheikh Tamim made things even worse when a few days later he called Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to congratulate him on his reelection — a clear act of defiance against Saudi’s hawkish stance on Iran.And then ISIS claims to carry out terror attacks that kill 12 people in Tehran. Thereafter Iran’s infamous Revolutionary Guards accused Saudi Arabia of being behind the twin terrorist attacks in Tehran, and have vowed “revenge” even if ISIS has claimed responsability.
Iran has been pursuing a wedge policy vis-à-vis Qatar and its fellow members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). While the nascent “Arab NATO” is nominally designed to combat the threat posed by the Islamic State and groups like it, many in Iran view it as an attempt to contain and isolate Tehran. “Wedging” is when a state breaks up or divides an alliance, preventing its isolation and reducing the number of enemies it is facing.
-Iran’s foreign minister meets Qatar’s Emir
-Saudi Arabia/UAE/Bahrain/Egypt cut ties w/ Qatar
-ISIS attacks #Iran
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said there was a need for “transparent dialogue and diplomacy”, adding: “No country in the region will benefit from the heightened tension.”
Qatar and Terrorism support in the Middle East
It is true that Qatar, like Saudi Arabia, can be a troublesome partner, but Saudi Arabia’s complaint about Qatar and terrorism is hypocritical. Qatar has long been accused of funneling arms and money to radical groups in Syria, Libya and other Arab countries. And much to the chagrin of Saudi Arabia and the current Egyptian government, it supported the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood throughout the Arab Spring.
Qatar is also accused of having links to a group formerly known as the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate. Everyone should know or remember that Al-Jazeera, Qatar’s english channels the same put out two interviews with the leader of the Islamist Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria in an obvious attempt to persuade the Americans that his group was just the kind of “moderate” outfit the Americans should support in Syria’s war.
More recently, according to FT, Saudi Arabia was infuriated by a complicated ransom deal Qatar did in April to secure the release of nearly 30 prominent Qatari citizens held in Iraq.The terms of that deal are unknown, but both Iran and jihadist groups in Syria are reported to have been beneficiaries.
According to the FT, the catalyst that forced the Saudis and their allies to unveil the cut in diplomatic and economic ties, is that Qatar allegedly paid up to $1 billion to Iran and al-Qaeda affiliates “to release members of the Gulf state’s royal family who were kidnapped in Iraq while on a hunting trip, according to people involved in the hostage deal“; the secret deal was allegedly one of the triggers behind Gulf states’ dramatic decision to cut ties with Doha.
The details of the payoff: “around $700m was paid both to Iranian figures and the regional Shia militias they support, according to regional government officials. They added that $200m to $300m went to Islamist groups in Syria, most of that to Tahrir al-Sham, a group with links to al-Qaeda.“
But Saudi Arabia also funded terrorism, a fact that Mr. Trump, seduced by royal flattery, chose to ignore. Instead, he made common cause with Saudi Arabia against its perceived adversaries — Iran, the main enemy, and Qatar, faulted for supporting terrorism and Iran’s regional ambitions.
A far wiser course would have been to seek a balance between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. That he did not is one more in a string of bad decisions that have unnerved allies and partners. For at least a decade, the multimillion-dollar Captagon ( jihadist drug) trade has been a fixture of the Middle East’s black markets. It involves everyone : from Bulgarian and Syrian gangs, to Hezbollah, to members of the Saudi royal family. Two years ago the Lebanese police arrested Saudi prince Abdel Mohsen Bin Walid Bin Abdulaziz at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport for allegedly trying to smuggle 40 suitcases full of Captagon (along with some cocaine) to Riyadh aboard a private jet.
In a leaked email sent on August 17, 2014 by Hillary Clinton to her current campaign manager, John Podesta, who back then was counselor to Barack Obama, she admitted that Qatar and Saudi Arabia “are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”
On one hand, the US knows Qatar is a large source of support and funding for groups it considers to be terrorist organizations, like Hamas, or adversaries, like the Muslim Brotherhood.Wealthy individuals in the country are believed to have made donations and the government has given money and weapons to hardline Islamist groups in Syria. .
The SPA statement accused Qatar of backing these groups, as well as the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood – banned in Gulf countries as a terrorist organisation – and that it “promotes the message and schemes of these groups through their media constantly”.
Saudi Arabia itself is a key backer of Islamist rebels, including hardline jihadist groups, in Syria.But on the other hand, it has also been willing to allow the Pentagon to operate bases in its territory and to serve as an intermediary between Washington and Islamist groups across the region. To take one high-profile example, Qatar helped broker the deal with the Taliban that won the release of the imprisoned US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
For the past few years, Qatar has been playing both sides Al-Monitor reports. On the one hand, it sat down with the other Gulf states, coordinated positions and maintained extensive relations with them, including intelligence cooperation. At the same time, it continued to fund the Muslim Brotherhood around the world, keep Hamas above water in Gaza, support incitement and foment passions throughout the Middle East through Al Jazeera and “dance at all the weddings.” No more. The Saudis and Egyptians grew fed up with the situation and declared diplomatic war.
What’s the role of the United States?
The former secretary of state, once accused of complicity in US “war crimes” in Latin America and south-east Asia, has been a key advisor to Trump in negotiating US relations with Russia and China during the last months. Donald Trump met with “Henry” some days before his trip to the Middle East.
From Saudi Arabia, King Salman Ibn Abd al-Aziz was equally enthusiastic about Trump’s call to form a new front against Iran. Now, Qatar is the first to feel the consequences of this new development.
There is, of course, George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq which Kissinger supported. Furthermore, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger pushed for the 1974 events in Cyprus, the coup in Chile and the coup in Turkey in 1980, his Syrian strategy (he admitted that he never liked the Assad family) and the list is looong.
In early 1974, for instance, his so-called shuttle diplomacy helped deescalate the tensions that had led to the previous year’s Arab-Israeli War. At the same time, however, it noted a Congressional investigation into his sacrifice of the Kurds.
Less well known is the way in which Kissinger’s policies toward Iran and Saudi Arabia accelerated the radicalization in the region, how step by catastrophic step he laid the groundwork for the region’s spiraling crises of the present moment.
According to Qatar’s daily newspaper the Peninsula,officials with Donald Trump’s transition team told Eli Lake ,( newspaper’s journalist) that Kissinger has spent several hours since the election advising incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn and his team. He’s also putting his network in place. He recommended his former assistant, K.T. McFarland, to be Flynn’s deputy, and urged Trump to nominate Rex Tillerson, the chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil, as his secretary of state. Kissinger is one of the few people in Trump’s orbit who can get him on the phone whenever he wants, according to one transition adviser.
Of course “Henry” didn’t appreciate this opinion.
However, the FBI has sent a team of investigators to Qatar because they believe that Russian hackers are responsible for planting a fake news report that has led to the crisis in which all diplomatic ties to Qatar have been severed by Saudi Arabia and numerous other Gulf nations, according to a CNN report. The Qatar News Agency has been offline since the alleged hack occurred and it’s not clear if there was only one fake story planted, multiple, or any at all.
“Intelligence gathered by the U.S. security agencies indicates that Russian hackers were behind the intrusion first reported by the Qatari government two weeks ago, US officials say. Qatar hosts one of the largest U.S. military bases in the region,” CNN reported.