Small Country - Big Problem
June 8, 2017 5:12 AM   Subscribe

Qatar in the Cross-Hairs - How Bad Can it get.
The extraordinary propaganda offensive against Qatar which has been raging in sections of the Arab media for the last couple of weeks shifted from words to deeds when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt in effect placed Qatar under siege.
For the Trump administration, the 'terrorist' label is little more than a foreign policy tool of the US and its allies.
Turkey sees an opportunity; Al-Jazeera has an update page

The $1bn hostage deal that enraged Qatar’s Gulf rivals.
Pakistan prefers to watch from the sidelines, and then there is The Iran Factor.
posted by adamvasco (49 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
For whatever it's worth, the Dolphin gas pipeline between Quatar and the UAE is still operating normally, and - as I understand it - as long as that's true this is all political theater.
posted by mhoye at 5:19 AM on June 8, 2017 [8 favorites]

This will all be cleared up before the World Cup in 2022, right?
posted by 256 at 5:39 AM on June 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

An obvious motive here for the Saudis is to disrupt the market and raise oil prices.
posted by Bee'sWing at 6:03 AM on June 8, 2017

Summary of the one billion dollar ransom from Business Insider.

I saw a link blaming the Emir's statements on Iran on Russian hacking. I don't know what to believe any more. We lived in Qatar from 2013-2015, and I have too many opinions on this to share and not enough time to share them, but let me say that a lot of fresh food comes to Qatar via the KSA, and the shelves have been stripped bare. This is going to hurt the indentured workers, from India, Nepal and other countries the most, and they just don't need any more suffering in their lives. Also, the Saudi eggs hard dark yellow yolks, and were rich and flavorful, and I miss them. One of my students from the KSA here in the states told me that he viewed the Qatari as hillbillies with too much money and no class. The Baskin Robbins ice cream in Qatar is shipped in from Canada, and all of the produce in the grocery stores is labeled by country of origin, and it won't be affected, or overly affected by this. Now I have to take my daughters to summer school. Good day.
posted by mecran01 at 6:31 AM on June 8, 2017 [11 favorites]

An obvious motive here for the Saudis is to disrupt the market and raise oil prices.

Or possibly using the absence/weakness of the US to extend their territory and snuff out an irritating more liberal neighbor.

So anyway, I guess we know what the stupid Orb was about now.
posted by Artw at 6:32 AM on June 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

Think Progress - With the Qatar crisis, Trump may be giving Russia exactly what it was hoping for.
Moscow may have fomented the crisis by hacking a Qatari state news agency.
posted by adamvasco at 6:50 AM on June 8, 2017

I can't imagine the dissonance rampaging through Trump's thick head right now with ISIS attacking Iran, and Quatar (home of a US military base) being set-upon by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, and Russia pulling all the strings. This is really the moment where he has to be the fucking President of the fucking United States, and I don't think he has a clue.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:09 AM on June 8, 2017 [14 favorites]

Well don't worry, I'm sure the experienced and well-resourced career bureaucrats at the State Dept...oh, right.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:12 AM on June 8, 2017 [27 favorites]

Russia would be even more happy than the Saudis with higher oil prices. I'm not promoting conspiracy theories, but it is useful to consider who benefits.
posted by Bee'sWing at 8:14 AM on June 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

I think it's a mistake to view this news through the lens of American / Russian politics. But CNN's report yesterday was astonishing: CNN Exclusive: US suspects Russian hackers planted fake news behind Qatar crisis.
US investigators believe Russian hackers breached Qatar's state news agency and planted a fake news report that contributed to a crisis among the US' closest Gulf allies, according to US officials briefed on the investigation.

The FBI recently sent a team of investigators to Doha to help the Qatari government investigate the alleged hacking incident, Qatari and US government officials say.
Propaganda is powerful.
posted by Nelson at 8:21 AM on June 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

Propaganda is powerful.

Given that we live in a time when even the unimpeachable truth is considered propaganda by a not insignificant part of the population, it has no choice but to be powerful. It's seemingly all we have now.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:27 AM on June 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

One of the knock-on effects of this crisis is that if the U.S. doesn't step up for Qatar then the value for allies in hosting US military bases will bottom out rather quickly. Then the unofficial US military empire is looking at tough times for force projection precisely when aircraft carriers are obsoleting.
posted by srboisvert at 9:42 AM on June 8, 2017 [12 favorites]

Thanks for the post, adamvasco. I only knew about this because I was listening to webSDR shortwave radio military chatter last night and U.S. Air Force planes were talking about Qatar. I'm glad I have a better view of the whole situation now.
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:03 AM on June 8, 2017 [6 favorites]

The website is working for now but:
Al Jazeera media platforms under cyberattack
Website and digital platforms of entire Doha-based network undergoing 'systematic and continual hacking attempts'.
Al Jazeera
posted by Mister Bijou at 10:20 AM on June 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

That seems likely. Probably nobody who advised him did either, assuming there was anyone around to consult with while he was busy falling for the Russian Psyops campaign.
posted by Artw at 10:39 AM on June 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — #Qatar diplomat tells AP emir won't leave while country 'in blockade,' can't attend Trump mediation at White House.

MOSCOW, June 8. /TASS/. Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani plans to visit Moscow by the end of this week, a diplomatic source told TASS on Thursday.

So Russia takes the lead on diplomacy while our position is "You guys should come over and we'll talk it out, I'd go over there myself but I'm kind of a homepooper."
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:44 AM on June 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

It probably helps that the Qatari government owns 20 percent/$11 billion of the Russian national oil company which the Russian government would probably like to buy back at some point.
posted by Copronymus at 10:49 AM on June 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Reuters: U.S. military officials, also speaking anonymously to discuss political issues, said the Al Udeid airbase in Qatar is vital to American air support against Iranian paramilitaries and Iranian-backed forces on the side of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria's civil war.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:51 AM on June 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

In a rather complicated issues making enemies of the Saudis and Qatar, THIS EXPLAINS SOME OF THE UNDERLYING FACTS BEHIND THIS EXPLOSIVE FALLING OUT
posted by Postroad at 11:28 AM on June 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Nice link, but GOD I HATE CNN's "Gotta run that video NO MATTER WHAT!" site design.
posted by Samizdata at 12:55 PM on June 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

So when's the Dajjal showing his face?
posted by symbioid at 1:14 PM on June 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yet again Trump is mysteriously in lockstep with Russian ambitions. It's almost as if ... no surely not.
posted by walrus at 1:52 AM on June 9, 2017 [4 favorites]

Robots and Russians: the Qatar hacking mystery deepens .
posted by adamvasco at 10:37 AM on June 9, 2017

Tillerson, 90 minutes late to his press appearance where he takes no questions, says the GCC is "stronger together".
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:39 AM on June 9, 2017

Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia persisted.
posted by Copronymus at 11:35 AM on June 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

90 minutes late to his press appearance where he takes no questions

**GASP** - Tillerson appeared before the press?
posted by Artw at 11:36 AM on June 9, 2017

Trump: “Qatar has unfortunately been a funder of terrorism, and at a very high level.”
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:55 AM on June 9, 2017

Trump thanks Saudi King "Solomon"
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:57 AM on June 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

More updates:

* Tillerson uses term "Arabian Gulf" which is a big FU to Iran
* Trump seems to take Saudi side against Qatar (again)
* Saudi paper accuses Erdogan of having ties to the "Butcher of Kabul"
* Erdogan implies that Saudi and UAE were behind last year's coup attempt
* Pak newspaper: Pakistan is sending 20,000 troops to Qatar
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:36 PM on June 9, 2017 [5 favorites]

Qatari diplomats have taken to Twitter to try to talk to the US, reportedly unable to get through to anyone any other way. Also Trump directly contradicted Tillerson on America's stance towards Qatar. I'd make a joke, but the complete demolishment of America's foreign policy capability is terrifying.
posted by Nelson at 7:12 AM on June 10, 2017 [6 favorites]

Yeah, this is looking like half of the planet is about to go into smash-and-grab mode while the US government is spinning its wheels... Scary shit.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:19 AM on June 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

That, or the US government will learn that it receives better outcomes when it is driving negotiations than when it leaves diplomacy to other nations.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:58 PM on June 10, 2017

Nelson's link is astonishing. A desperate attempt to conduct diplomacy thru social media or a cunning strategy to influence a certain person whose reading is confined to tweets? You be the judge.
posted by CCBC at 4:03 PM on June 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

Robert Fisk -
Only Shakespeare’s plays could come close to describing such treachery – the comedies, that is.
posted by adamvasco at 7:33 PM on June 10, 2017

Emails Expose How Saudi Arabia and UAE Work the U.S. Media to Push for War.
Cheer leader David Ignatius.
posted by adamvasco at 11:09 AM on June 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Fixing Trump's Qatar Blunder (He's Not Helping). The president facilitated a split between U.S. allies. Others will have to repair the damage.
Until now, Qatar has played the role of a modest regional counterbalance against Saudi domination of the Persian Gulf. Crucially, it hosts Al-Jazeera, the leading Arabic satellite news network.

The Saudis’ nominal excuse for breaking diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar was its sponsorship of terror. But the real reason was that Trump’s comments on his visit to Saudi Arabia in May gave the kingdom an excuse to take steps against a rival whom it considers a thorn in its side and a dangerous source of critical news.

Trump didn’t mean to cause the break – at least not at first. Indeed, it's clear from his comments on Twitter last week that he was outwitted by the Saudis.

During his Middle East trip, Trump says he told Arab leaders that he wanted a stop to “funding of radical ideology.”

In ordinary Trumpian discourse, that language presumably referred to the promotion of the rigid Saudi Wahhabi strain of Islam through mosques, preachers, schools and study fellowships. But the leaders present, Trump tweeted, immediately pointed to Qatar.

Trump wasn’t quick enough to realize that this was a way of deflecting attention from the Saudis while dangling the possibility of action against Qatar. So he took the bait.

That gave Saudi Arabia enough confidence in Trump’s backing to lash out at Qatar – something it had previously refrained from doing because of the close U.S. military alliance with that country.

The Saudi gamble paid off. Instead of expressing dismay at the rift between key regional allies, Trump immediately took credit for the Saudi step.
posted by homunculus at 1:17 PM on June 11, 2017 [5 favorites]

(what's the reason for marking international conflicts as #potus45, given that it's reserved for "US Politics" and has special site support?)
posted by effbot at 2:46 PM on June 11, 2017

Well, if you want a story that involves both Qatar and #potus45, here you go:

Several people interviewed for this piece expressed concern that Trump’s bias against their country [Qatar] might stem from a series of failed business overtures that he (along with his son-in-law Jared Kushner) made seven years ago, which are only now being reported. They did not go as swimmingly as the deals made with the Saudis and Emiratis...

...He had expected his hosts to be impressed, if not grateful, that a person of Trump’s stature would visit the Qatari capital. Apparently distracted by the lack of decorum, Trump barely continued with his pitch. The meeting abruptly ended, according to one account, with Trump exiting the room visibly angered.

posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:12 PM on June 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Mod note: A couple deleted. Effbot, if you have questions about the site, you can contact us, or if it needs community input, post a Metatalk, but please don't derail threads to discuss meta stuff.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:50 AM on June 12, 2017

See, Tillerson, this is how you do that...

Iran sends planes stuffed with food to Qatar
Five Iranian planes filled with food have landed at Doha airport as the blockade against Qatar by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries starts to bite.

Iran said the planes were filled with vegetables and that it plans to send 100 tons of fresh fruit and legumes every day to the import-dependent nation, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 5:56 AM on June 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

NYT: Arab Nations Issue Demands to Qatar
Saudi Arabia and several other Arab countries that recently cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar issued a harsh list of demands on Friday, insisting that the wealthy but tiny Persian Gulf nation shut down the news network Al Jazeera, abandon ties with Islamist organizations and provide detailed information about its funding for political dissidents.

The demands, which were presented to Qatar through mediators from Kuwait, risked pulling other powers deeper into the rift by calling on the country to shut down a Turkish military base and to downgrade its ties with Iran — a difficult task given that Iran and Qatar share a large gas field that provides much of Qatar’s wealth.
The Turkish defense minister, Fikri Isik, rejected the demand that Qatar close the Turkish military base and suggested that Turkey would enhance its presence there as a show of support.
More broadly, the list of demands called for undefined “compensation” and for Qatar to conform politically and economically with the other nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

If Qatar complies, the four countries said, it will be audited once a month for the first year and quarterly during the second year. It would then be monitored for compliance for the next decade.
Al Jazeera: Arab states issue list of demands to end Qatar crisis
Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries that have cut ties to Qatar have reportedly issued a list of demands to end a major Gulf crisis, insisting that Qatar shut down the Al Jazeera network, close a Turkish military base and scale down ties with Iran.

In the 13-point list, the countries also demand that Qatar sever all alleged ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and with other groups, including Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and ISIL (also known as ISIS).

Associated Press and Reuters news agencies reported they obtained the list from unnamed officials from one of the countries involved in isolating Qatar.
Those countries have now given Qatar 10 days to comply with all of the demands, which also include paying an unspecified sum in compensation for what they claimed to be "loss of life and other financial losses caused by Qatar's policies".

According to the list, Qatar must refuse to naturalise citizens from the four countries and "revoke Qatari citizenship for existing nationals where such citizenship violates those countries' laws".

Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson insisted that Qatar's neighbours provide a list of demands that was "reasonable and actionable".
The document does not specify what the countries will do if Qatar refuses to comply.
Al Jazeera has also published (at the link above) the full list of reported demands.
posted by cjelli at 7:57 AM on June 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Qatar FM: The list of demands was meant to be rejected.
Doha rejects demands made by Saudi Arabia and its allies, saying 'the world is not governed by ultimatums'.
posted by adamvasco at 5:00 PM on July 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

An interesting happening in Saudi Arabia, with some ties to what's going on in Qatar:

Saudi Arabia Moves to Silence Deposed Prince, Dissidents
Royal court limits movements of Mohammed bin Nayef, infiltrates social-media accounts of activists and religious figures
The new heir to Saudi Arabia’s throne has launched a crackdown on dissent in recent weeks, attempting to silence activists and critical clerics as well as his deposed predecessor, according to U.S. and Saudi officials familiar with the events.

King Salman upended Saudi Arabia’s succession order last month by naming his 31-year-old son, Mohammed bin Salman, crown prince and next in line to the throne, and sidelining his nephew and heir apparent, Mohammed bin Nayef, who has deep ties to U.S. intelligence and is widely viewed by U.S. officials as a stabilizing force in the region.
The Qatar blockade was championed by Mohammed bin Salman, while Mohammed bin Nayef favored a more tempered approach through diplomatic channels. That difference of opinions contributed to the timing of the power shuffle, The Wall Street Journal has reported.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 6:46 PM on July 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

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