In an unprecedented move, Saudi Arabia has broken all diplomatic and commercial ties with Qatar. Middle East’s political circles remained abuzz with the sudden move. Saudi Arabia has disrupted the power and diplomacy balance in the Middle East. Qatar, a small but wealthy nation, is on the receiving end of Saudi’s punitive measures. Its ties with Iran and Islamism groups including Muslim Brotherhood have brought the wrath of the Saudis.
A Diplomatic Shock
Breaking commercial and diplomatic ties with Qatar will have regional and global repercussions. The Middle East does not boast of stable neighbor relationships and the conditions can only get worse. Saudi’s intentions are not clear. However, if Qatar does not break ties with Iran soon, it could lead to further imbalance in the region. Qatari citizens in other Arab states have 2 weeks to leave their respective places and go back. Meanwhile, Qatar will also not be a part of the Saudi-led fight in Yemen anymore.
United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Maldives, and Bahrain have also severed all diplomatic and commercial links to Qatar. These countries want to corner and pin Iran, which has received support from Qatar. This move has created a new rift between the Arabs, some of the wealthiest and most powerful nations in the world. Iran responded to the news by blaming US president Donald Trump for orchestrating the event. An official stated that the event was the result of the president’s ‘sword dance’ with the Saudis when he visited Riyadh recently.
A New Conflict with Old Ties
Qatar is one of the wealthiest and most powerful Arab nations. The country has the largest reserves of liquefied petroleum gas and a $300+ billion strong sovereign wealth fund. This fund has invested in several multi-million dollar businesses across the world including Barclays. Qatar’s al Jazeera, a state-owned satellite channel has been called out by Saudi Arabia for supporting militants. Egypt is more concerned with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is considered a mighty political opponent back in Cairo.
Saudi has blamed Qatar for maintaining ties with Islamic State, Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, and Iran- the arch-rival of Saudi Arabia. Note that America could be in a diplomatic dilemma as it shares good ties with both Saudi and Qatar. Meanwhile, some nations participating in this boycott are a part of OPEC. This move could lead to upheavals in the bloc’s oil price rise dreams. The Arab states started a spat in 2014 as well but this time it is severe. Qatar’s stock index was down by 7.5 percent following the event. It is a big blow to Qatar’s image of a mediator and power broker in the Middle East.