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Arab States Break Ties with Qatar, an Arab State

June 7, 2017
Plain English Version

The skyline of Doha, the capital of Qatar.

There is an old story.

A scorpion asks a camel to give him a ride on its back across the Jordan River. The camel says, “If I do that you will sting me and we will both drown.” The scorpion says, “Why would I do that?”

So the camel says okay. Halfway across the river, the scorpion stings the camel. The camel turns to the scorpion and says, “You stung me, and now we will both drown. Why did you do that?”

The scorpion explains, “This is the Middle East.”

President Trump went to Saudi Arabia. He urged the countries in the region to join in the fight against the Islamic State. He said he made great progress on the trip.

The “progress” fell apart on Monday. Five Arab states, led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, ended relations with the Arab nation of Qatar. Qatar’s diplomats had forty-eight hours to get out of one country, Bahrain.

Gulf Arab countries

Qatar is a strong ally of the United States. It houses a big U.S. military base. But there are other things about Qatar. For example, it supports the Muslim Brotherhood. This it the group the Egyptian army ousted from the country. There are exiles from the terrorist group Hamas in Qatar. Qatar has strong ties with Iran. Saudi Arabia says Qatar helps forces in Yemen that are terrorist groups. Qatar also seems to be playing both sides in the civil war in Syria.

The severing of ties is a problem for Qatar. It imports a lot of its food from Saudi Arabia.

Trump made it clear that terrorists are the targets and that Iran is the enemy. President Obama wanted good relations with Iran. Iran is a Shite Muslim nation that supports the Syrian government.

Trump sides with Sunni Muslim nations. He thinks that countries financing terrorists are best able to fight terrorists.

Another reason the Saudis want to work with Trump is this. Trump has made it clear that human rights are not a part of American diplomacy. This is a change from many years of policy.

The Arab Gulf States have terrible human rights records.

Saudi Arabia is spending billions of dollars on U.S. arms. Some say this is giving them the confidence to settle scores, such as the one with Qatar.

A great deal is at stake. The American-led air campaign needs all the Middle East countries to work together.

Many business agreements also are at risk. Why is all this happening? Perhaps the best explanation may be, “This is the Middle East.”

Source: The New York Times June 5, 2017

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