Topic:

Qatar

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.

The Qatar Crisis and China

| June 29, 2017

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and several other Sunni Muslim countries suspended their relationships with Qatar, creating one of the worst crises to befall the Muslim Sunni world in a decade. China, the second-largest economy in the world, has an interest in the achievement of a resolution to the crisis, and may have a role to play. It can tell one side “you made your point” and the other “you learned your lesson”. China needs these countries and has a lot to offer them in return.

Turkey’s Failed Grand Design for the Middle East

| June 16, 2017

The siege of Qatar is sending messages on many wavelengths, some intended for Turkey. Sadly, Erdoğan is too ideologically blind to see that Turkey is standing on the wrong corner at the wrong moment. Doha may not be the same place after the Gulf Arabs find a way out of their crisis. A less Turkey-friendly Qatar may well emerge.

The Qatar Crisis: Signs of Weakness

The decision by some Persian Gulf and Arab nations to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar is indicative of the deep crisis brewing in the region over the lack of real Sunni leadership. This situation could represent an opportunity for Israel if it treads lightly.

The “Game of Camps” Revisited: Why Qatar? Why Now?

| June 12, 2017

In the Middle East “game of camps”, the Qataris have been playing a dangerous game for years. They have provocatively supported the Muslim Brotherhood and actively promoted the destabilization of existing regimes, using huge sums of money as well as the pernicious influence of Al Jazeera TV. The dramatic steps taken against them over the past few days are thus hardly surprising, but they shed some light on the present stage in the struggle for regional hegemony.