Qatar marches to a different drummer…(again?!)

It appears that Saudi Arabia and Qatar have just entered another period of confrontation. The governments of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt as well as Saudi close allies like Yemen, Libya and the Maldives announced on Monday to take action against Qatar’s considering it as a “threat to stability and security in the Persian Gulf”. In fact, many see it as a Saudi orchestrated campaign to isolate Qatar.

The reason of the revitalized tension was an alleged statement by the Emir Emir Tamim at a military graduation ceremony May 23, where he spoke about the relationship to the Trump administration as well as the positive role of Hamas and Iran in the Middle East that disliked many other Arab states. While it was soon revealed that this was a false statement because the website of the Qatar News Agency had been hacked, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain reacted severely with blocking the news channel Al-Jazeera, initiating economic sanctions, exerting diplomatic pressure and banning Qatari citizens. Furthermore, the Saudi government declared the expulsion of Qatar’s engagement in its coalition leading the war on Yemen.

It is true that this recent conflict has been built for decades but considering these various actions, this crisis goes well beyond the latest dispute in 2014, where Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE withdrawal their ambassadors from Doha. It seems that there is a fundamental shift of power games within the Arab Peninsula but it remains unclear for observers how this will end up. The fact that Kuwait engages now in solving the crisis shows that even the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) fear a “potential breakup of the GCC”.

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