Yesterday, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates cut ties with Qatar. Today, it seems that Jordan will join the group. Here are 5 things to know about this diplomatic crisis:
- There is a long-standing rift between Qatar and Saudi Arabia that goes back decades. These two countries have fought about borders, “controversial” press releases (Qatar owns Al Jazeera), and Qatar’s support of extremist organizations.
- Qatar’s foreign relations are unique and ambiguous: they are friendly with Iran and with the United States at the same time, for example. While Qatar maintains close economic ties with Iran, to the dismay of Saudi Arabia and others, it also hosts the United States’ largest military base in the Middle East, Al Udeid Air Base.
- Qatar is part of the coalition group helping to fight ISIS. Yet, at the same time, it is accused of funding extremist groups in Syria.
- Qatar alleges that neither Saudi Arabia nor any other country approached them to talk before resorting to such drastic measures.
- President Trump tweeted this today, implying he was responsible for this diplomatic crisis.
This diplomatic crisis could be a disaster for stability in the Middle East, as well as for American national security concerns. First, it is not wise to have the coalition that is supposed to be fighting ISIS, fighting amongst themselves instead. Furthermore, this could backfire and empower Iran in the region. Qatar is a small country that depends enormously on imports, particularly from Saudi Arabia. Iran can step in and assume that role. If Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, UAE, Jordan, and other Arab countries are fighting amongst each other, this will weaken those countries – allies to the United States – and strengthen Iran. This, in turn, hurts the United States… but emboldens Russia. Does the United States really want that? President Trump should think about that before jumping to take credit for this crisis.