Bombshell in the Gulf: The GCC/Qatar Crisis

06/11/201722 Comments

So what does a geopolitical bombshell look like, exactly? Well, something like what took place this past week in the Gulf. Namely:

  • Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Egypt, Mauritania, Yemen, and the Bayda-based so-called “eastern” government in Libya (and Maldives, don’t forget Maldives!) all cut diplomatic ties with Qatar this week.
  • The governments of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain have ordered all Qatari citizens out of their respective countries within the next two weeks.
  • Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain have also banned all sea and air travel to and from Qatar, with Saudi Arabia shutting down the embattled state’s only land border.
  • The UAE has made it illegal for any of its citizens to even voice support for Qatar, punishing offenders with hefty fines and up to 15 years in jail.
  • Egypt is trying to get the U.N. to investigate Qatar for a 2015 incident where the Qataris allegedly paid $1 billion to a terrorist group in Iraq to free 26 hostages, including members of the Qatari royal family.
  • Egypt issued a 10-point ultimatum with a 24-hour deadline calling on the Qataris to sever diplomatic relations with Iran, expel members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, close down Al Jazeera, and end support for terrorist organizations, among other items.
  • Turkey’s parliament, meanwhile, has fast-tracked legislation allowing troops to be deployed to a Turkish base in Qatar in an apparent show of solidarity with its regional ally.

That, my friends, is a geopolitical bombshell.

Now, as out-of-the-blue as all this might appear to casual observers of the region, it makes more sense if one puts these events into the larger historical context of ongoing tense relations between the State of Qatar and its Arab neighbors. Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt had a months-long diplomatic dispute with the Qataris just three years ago that involved the withdrawal of those countries’ ambassadors from the capital city of Doha over the state’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood and other non-Saudi-approved extremists. Saudi Arabia has also closed Qatar’s land border during upheavals in the past.

But still, this particular dust-up is clearly an order of magnitude above previous tiffs, and it’s magnified by the precarious nature of a region already on the knife-edge in so many ways.

So the obvious question is, why? What line was crossed that necessitated a reaction like this? And why now?

Find out more about the crisis in the Gulf in this week’s edition of The Corbett Report Subscriber.

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