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Qatar is a Ticking Time Bomb

June 28, 2017
Plain English Version

U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani on May 21, 2017. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GETTY

Arab nations cut economic, diplomatic and travel ties with Qatar a few weeks ago. They issued a list of harsh demands. The demands include:

  • Abandon ties with Islamist terror organizations,
  • Provide information about their fundingof political groups,
  • Shut down the news network Al Jazeera,
  • Close down a Turkish military base,
  • Downgrade relations with Iran.

Many observers say Qatar will not meet these demands. The outcome may be the biggest crisis to occur in the Middle East in years. Experts say that Qatar has provoked other Arab nations for a long time. For example, it supports the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood held power for a brief period in Egypt. The army threw it out.

The list of demands called for some “compensation.” It also calls for Qatar to join the other Arab nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Qatar is an independent nation. It will not be easy for the country to give up its rights.

Where is the United States? President Trump said he is behind Saudi Arabia in the battle against Islamic terrorism. Days after Trump said this, the Saudis cut their ties with Qatar. Many see a connection between the two events. Trump made it clear that Iran was the enemy.

Iran made an agreement with other nations including the United States. The agreement was to stop work on a nuclear weapon for the years ahead. President Obama saw working with Iran as one path to peace in the Middle East. President Trump is betting on the Saudis and the other Arab states in the Middle East.

Most of the Muslims in the Arab nations are Sunni. Most in Iran and Iraq are Shia. Sunni and Shia have feuded for centuries. Most Islamic terrorists are Sunni. All these and other groups are fighting in Syria.

It is confusing. America is following two paths to solving the Qatar conflict. One is the path of President Trump. The other is the path of Rex Tillerson; He is the U.S. Secretary of State.

Trump says the U.S. supports the Saudis and the other Arab nations. Tillerson says the U.S. is trying to have the countries work out their differences. There are good reasons for Tillerson’s view. The U.S. has a large Army base in Qatar. It conducts its Middle Eastern air war in Syria from Qatar.

President Trump announced an arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The U.S. Senate just weighed in. It is holding up the arms deal. The Senate is siding with Secretary of State Tillerson and not President Trump.

America’s policy is hard to understand. But the rift in the Arab world is real. And it is longstanding. There is no solution in sight.

Source: The New York Times June 26, 2017

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