Is Saudi-Qatar spat part of a greater plan for the Middle East? – Naveed Yousafzai


Qatar is to hold FIFA World Cup in 2022 but a serious sport has already begun in their field and so far their goalpost has been compromised with KSA and UAE shooting the penalty kicks one after another. To make the matters worse, there is no referee who could blow a whistle on the foul play from either side.

In the past 48 hours, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has subjected Qatar to diplomatic and economic pressure which has left rest of the world dazed. It was 5:00 in the morning when all hell broke loose on Qatar; as the country was explicitly isolated by the Saudis, Emiratis and Egyptians.

Interestingly, the U.S. president Donald Trump has also tried to the credit for Qatar’s ‘isolation’. Trump’s admission might also hint towards a greater plan for the Middle, yet nothing could be said with certainty at this point in time.

KSA closed Qatar’s only land border, denied airspace and stopped all food supplied to it at a speed which has never been seen before. As KSA is busy twisting the arm of Qatar, the pertinent question is why this bullying started all of a sudden?

Of course, one cannot simply buy the official explanations that Qatari state news agency has posted something in favour of Iran and Hizbollah, or that Sheikh Tamim’s picking a call from Rouhani’ triggered this chain reaction. The emails leaked straight from the inbox of the UAE ambassador to US could be a valid reason though at this point. This leakage has been considered as a deliberate move to jeopardize the US-UAE and US-KSA relations.

I am not a big fan of conspiracy theories and I cannot buy these official statements. To be honest, this is still shrouded in mystery but whatever has happened, there seems to be loss of trust for which Qatar is receiving the wrath from the land where they originally belonged to.

It seems as if Qatar has ditched KSA and UAE seriously at some point (in the past) because of which it has adopted a feign posture, while KSA is chest thumping on its recent achievements. But this trust deficit is nothing new; Qatar has long been accused by the GCC and KSA for playing ‘both sides’ in the recent past. Where KSA and Co. has taken a firm stand against Iran, Qatar has not.

Recently when KSA formed a 50 + nations alliance and was enjoying the glitz blitz of it, Qatar was looked upon as a ‘jealous brother’ in the circle as Qatar works on its own foreign policy which is not inspired from the voice that the GCC has.

For KSA, the formation of alliance was a master stroke; putting everyone in its pocket including the US while leaving  Iran isolated. Qatar, though, has held an ‘unpopular’ view against Iran’s diplomatic isolation.

It is fair on behalf of Qatar if it wants to propel its own foreign policy as a sovereign state, but at what cost? This is where Qatar needs to have a strong introspection.

No doubt Qatar is one of the richest country in the world; Iraq and Libya too were at one time. They were even in a better shape.

Saddam once had the money and the military might with which he took over Kuwait in a few hours, but he had no diplomacy to retain either Kuwait or Iraq afterwards.

Libya is a story now no different from Iraq and Qaddafi, at later stages, became the Socrates of Arabia (as Socrates in Athens used to tell people the truth, they poisoned him.)

Amazingly, Saddam and Qaddafi ended up no different than one another and even more amazingly both the leaders had a brawl with King Abdullah.

At Doha Summit, King Abdullah lashed out on late Qaddafi with infamous words ‘The lie is before you and the grave is in front of you’. It appears as if Qatar recently tried to cut a coat bigger than its needs.

Probably, a problem with almost every Arab state. Each one of it wants to be in the pilot seat with enough fuel but with no flying experience.

Qatar in the past has complained in a feeble voice that KSA and UAE are trying to impose on them to choose between ‘my way or the highway’.

Qatar houses the largest US Military Base‘Al-Udeid’ in the Middle East while KSA has become a Frankenstein of regional power of its own.

Both countries and allies should avoid beating the drums of gloom and doom as 47 million people live in the GCC. Much of the global security, oil prices and labour force transactions are dependent upon the GCC. Their diplomatic rift, if escalated otherwise can burn the whole region like a Roman candle.

This schism between the two Arab states can better be sorted out in the Arabian traditional manner that is to go inside the tent, stand eye-ball to eye-ball and talk while pouring Gahwah for one another.

The author is a Defense and Security Analyst and can be reached at

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: