Topic:

Qatar

The Fragility of Middle East Alliances

| November 12, 2018

Competition among Middle Eastern rivals and ultimate power within the region’s various alliances is increasingly as much economic and commercial as it is military and geopolitical. Battles are fought as much on geopolitical fronts as they are on economic and cultural battlefields such as soccer.

Regional Players Maneuver to Reengineer the Israeli-Palestinian Landscape

| September 2, 2018

A possible ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, may be about more than ending the ongoing, escalating violence that threatens to spark yet another Gaza war. It could also be an attempt to pave the way for the return of Muhammad Dahlan as successor to PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

Russian Hacking in the US and the Gulf

| July 23, 2018

The covert cyberwar that helped spark the 13-month-old Gulf crisis, which pits a Saudi-United Arab Emirates-led alliance against Qatar, may have just gotten murkier with the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence agents by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The 2018 World Cup Could Become the Middle East’s Latest Battlefield

| June 13, 2018

The simultaneous presence in Russia of the Saudi and Iranian teams for the 2018 World Cup is likely to shine a spotlight on the covert wars between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran as well as on a related dispute over 2022 World Cup host Qatar, which did not qualify for this year’s tournament. Tensions will be present even if the kingdom and the Islamic Republic fail to meet face to face on the pitch.

Saudi-Moroccan Soccer Spat Symbolizes the New Arab Politics

| May 17, 2018

The spat over Saudi Arabia’s refusal to support a Moroccan bid for hosting rights of the 2026 World Cup tells the tale of the rise of individual country nationalism at the expense of Arab solidarity, Saudi determination to safeguard its alliance with the US at any cost, and creeping Saudi and UAE efforts to strong-arm countries into supporting their 11-month-old diplomatic and economic boycott of Qatar.

Natural Gas: An Underrated Driver of Saudi Hostility Towards Iran and Qatar

| April 25, 2018

Debilitating hostility between Saudi Arabia and Iran is about lots of things, not least who will have the upper hand in a swath of land stretching from Central Asia to the Atlantic coast of Africa. While attention is focused on ensuring that continued containment of Iran ensures that Saudi Arabia has a leg up, geopolitics is but one side of the equation. Natural gas is the other.

The Qatar Opposition: Avoiding the Hariri Miscalculation

| March 12, 2018

The widely criticized attempted resignation by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri backfired as a political move against Iran for two reasons: first, because Hezbollah is already largely in control of the Lebanese government; and second, because the Saudis, who backed the move, have little leverage inside the country. Continuing efforts to effect similar change inside another Iran proxy, Qatar, are bound to fail for similar reasons. In order to succeed, the Saudis and their allies should build authentic relationships with potential supporters and create an environment receptive to their interests.

Qatari vs. Saudi Wahhabism and the Perils of Top-Down Change

| December 7, 2017

Qatar and Saudi Arabia share a Wahhabi tradition, yet Qatar’s secular social character is more similar to that of Turkey. Despite their current antagonism, the leaders of the two countries share a forward-looking, less socially conservative vision. But a government-engineered modernizing process will be ineffective if it is not accompanied by political change.

Qatar: A Model of Social Change?

| November 20, 2017

The Gulf region’s onerous kafala or labor sponsorship system has been denounced as a form of modern slavery. Potential Qatari moves to become the first Gulf state to effectively abolish kafala could produce a rare World Cup that leaves a true legacy of social and economic change.

A New “Arab Spring” in the Persian Gulf?

| July 13, 2017

The winds of war blowing between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as Iranian subversion, are destabilizing the Persian Gulf principalities. To make matters worse, the economic situation, which has worsened in recent years because of ill-advised decisions, is stoking fears of popular uprisings and widespread disturbances. These internal crises could lead to a new “Arab Spring” in which some of the Gulf monarchies might fall. The main winner would be Tehran, for which the current crisis, along with the boycott imposed on Qatar, has opened a path to a takeover of Bahrain – and Iran has already, in effect, taken over Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and Sana’a.