An analysis of the latest developments in the crisis between Saudi Arabia and Qatar – the situation is getting much worse and geopolitics are going to get complicated.
Chances are that you read my article Il Qatar ed il Medio Oriente – L’Inferno Geopolitico, at least if you speak Italian.
Today I am interested in analyzing latest developments, for what is happening between Qatar and Saudi Arabia – even if very few analysts are paying attention – is revealing.
In a few words, Saudi Arabia has accused Qatar of trying to internationalize Saudi holy sites which, as you will know, happen to include Islam’s most sacred site; every Muslim should visit that site at least once in his life – the Hajj pilgrimage.
The Saudis said what Qataris are trying to do amounts to a declaration of war on the Kingdom. Qatar answered by stating it has never called for such an internationalization; besides, it has lodged a complaint with the UN, expressing concerns about freedom of Hajj for Qataris.
As a consequence of the tension between Qatar and Saudi Arabia – and its allies – there have indeed been a lot of discussions on how to deal with this matter; as a result, no one has been able to understand the exact situation – it seems to depend on who is speaking.
Let’s delve into geopolitics.
As I wrote in Il Qatar ed il Medio Oriente – L’Inferno Geopolitico, in June 2017 Saudi Arabia has referred to Qataris as ‘… an extension of their brothers in the Kingdom …’
Now comes the war term – linked to Islam’s most sacred sites.
This is getting more and more serious. When someone refers to brothers and then to religion, everything can be expected.
In the meantime, Turkish troops are landing in Qatar at an accelerated pace: Qatar is obviously fearful of an invasion, Turkey is ready to defend Qatar.
As a consequence, the UAE (United Arab Emirates) took a step backward. The UAE stand with the Saudis, but they are probably wary of the latest developments. As they are Muslim, they understand the implications of Saudi words.
In the meantime, the USA are in a delicate situation and trying to balance themselves between the contenders – and Turkey.
Military exercises in Qatar – Turkish forces are going to take part in them – seem to have been an attempt at assuring Qatar’s security; this attempt has failed, for then came the Saudi Arabia’s reaction I am writing on.
On August 2nd, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait; no one had foreseen such an event – in fact, it took everyone by surprise.
In the already mentioned Il Qatar ed il Medio Oriente – L’Inferno Geopolitico, I have underlined some similarities between Iraq (1990) and Saudi Arabia (2017).
I am not suggesting Saudi Arabia is going to attack Qatar in August. I am trying to figure out future scenarios – i.e., hypothesizing extreme events and use said events as a an exercise in geopolitics.
What would happen in this extreme case?
I suppose the US would be informed at the last minute and asked to remain inside their base. Then, Saudi forces would take over Qatar – all the while trying not to harm Turkish forces.
At that point, it would be up to the Turks; if they decided to fight hard, chaos would descend on the Arab Peninsula and the USA would be obliged to take side. For a geopolitical analysis (in Italian) of the Arab Peninsula, see Rischi di Export ed Internazionalizzazione: Rapporto su Penisola Arabica e Dintorni.
Let’s analyze less extreme possibilities.
Saudi Arabia may choose to hamper Qatar’s resources – financial, food-related and so on. The Saudis and their allies have already severed many Qatari assets, e.g., flights. They could go even further, trying to harass sea-lanes and commercial flights, or inspecting ships. Obviously, these measures would lead to confrontations with Iran.
There are many other possibilities; in any case, the Saudis are going to act someway.