US seen to have triggered Qatar crisis

THE US is believed to be the country behind the Middle East countries led by Saudi Arabia cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar, the action which has created more tensions between the US led camp and the Sino-Soviet led camp, analysts said, adding that the hidden target of this move is to take control of one of the world’s biggest natural gas reserves shared by Iran and Qatar.

Saudi ArabiaEgypt, the United Arab EmiratesYemenLibyaBahrain, and Maldives last week cut their ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism and opening up the worst rift in years among some of the most powerful states in the Arab world.

Iran — long at odds with Saudi Arabia and a behind-the-scenes target of the move — immediately blamed President Donald Trump for setting the stage during his recent trip to Riyadh.

Gulf Arab states and Egypt have long resented Qatar’s support for Islamists, especially the Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood, which they regard as a dangerous political enemy.

The diplomatic cut created a dramatic rift among the Arab nations, many of which are in OPEC, as they also announced the closure of transport ties with Qatar with the three Gulf states giving Qatari visitors and residents two weeks to leave. Qatar was also expelled from the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia accused Qatar of backing militant groups — some backed by regional archrival Iran — and broadcasting their ideology, an apparent reference to Qatar’s influential state-owned satellite channel al Jazeera.

Qatar said it was facing a collusion aimed at weakening it, denying it was interfering in other countries’ affairs. “The campaign of incitement is based on lies that had reached the level of complete fabrications,” the Qatari foreign ministry said in a statement.

Iran came out to say America is pulling the strings with Hamid Aboutalebi, deputy chief of staff of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, saying what was happening was the preliminary result of the sword dance in his reference to US President Donald Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia. Trump participated in a traditional sword dance during the trip in which he called on Muslim countries to stand united against Islamist extremists and singled out Iran as a key source of funding and support for militant groups. During the trip Trump managed to sell over US$350 billion of arms to Saudi Arabia over the next 10 years with US$110 deal done immediately.

Somkiat Osotsapa, lecturer at the Faculty of Economics, Chulalongkorn University, said in his Facebook that Qatar is one of the richest nations with plenty of oil and gas reserves. Qatar has 143 years of gas reserves and 40 years of oil reserves.  It also has over US$330 billion of wealth funds invested in many countries.

He said that’s why so many people now thought that the latest move led by Saudi Arabia is nothing more than a stepping stone to invade Qatar and take control of the oil and gas reserve.

Among those thinking along this line is Tyler Durden of ZeroHedge.  He said according to the official narrative, the reason for the latest Gulf crisis is because – to everyone’s “stunned amazement” – Qatar was funding terrorists, and after Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia in which he urged a crackdown on financial support of terrorism, which in recent years had made ideologically unacceptable overtures toward both Shia Iran and Russia.

However, as often happens, the official narrative is traditionally a convenient smokescreen from the real underlying tensions.

The real reason behind the diplomatic fallout may be far simpler, and once again has to do with a long-running and controversial topic, namely Qatar’s regional natural gas dominance, he wrote.

Recall that many have speculated (with evidence going back as far back as 2012) that one of the reasons for the long-running Syria proxy war was nothing more complex than competing gas pipelines, with Qatar eager to pass its own pipeline, connecting Europe to its vast natural gas deposits. However as that would put Russia’s Gazprom’s monopoly of European LNG supply in jeopardy, Russia had been firmly, and violently, against this strategy from the beginning and that explains Putin’s firm support of the Assad regime and the Kremlin’s desire to prevent the replacement of the Syrian government with a puppet regime.

However, Somkiat said this time around it will not be easy for the US and Saudi Arabia to invade Qatar, which has Turkey and Iran as its allies.  Of the three million people living Qatar, most of them are foreign workers the highest number being Indians. It was estimated that around 700,000 of the people working in Qatar are Indians, whose number is around two times more than Qataris.

Following Turkey’s decision to deploy troops in Qatar, Pakistan took a similar step, by deciding to send twenty thousand soldiers to the region.  This decision was made under the military agreements signed by Pakistan and Turkey.


Top: US President Trump participating in the traditional sword dance during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia. Photo: CNN

By Kowit Sanandang



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