Explain: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt sever diplomatic relations with Qatar

This morning there is news that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain have all severed diplomatic ties with Qater, accusing the latter of supporting terrorism.

My impression has always been that as far as Gulf states go, Qatar was relatively stable, without a major problem with militants. Al-Jazeera is based there and they seem to manage their economy more responsibly than some of their neighbors. (They certainly don’t have half the royal family funneling their oil money to Wahabbists like the Saudis, for instance.)

From what I gathered from news reports, the countries involved are throwing around accusations of fake news and rumor-mongering, and apparently this tiff is somehow related to alleged Qatari support for militants in Yemen. I know the Saudis have been operating in Yemen against those guys, but I’m not sure how Qatar is involved, if at all.

Bottom line: Qatar is close to Iran, but borders Saudi Arabia, Iran’s rival in the current Mideast Cold War, which just got a huge amount of weapons from the United States and the tacit support of the American president. Something like this was bound to happen.

But why?
Is Qatar too liberal? Too economically close to Iran?
I read Alessan’s reply, but that alludes to something I don’t get. I understand S.A. has the support of the US, but so does Qatar. What is S.A. so pissed about?

I confess I don’t understand the issues either.

Saudi Arabia is leading the others in trying to scapegoat tiny Qatar for the recent ISIS-inspired attacks on the UK. They’d like to misdirect the western world into thinking that Saudi Arabia itself isn’t the nation most responsible for the spread of violent Islamic terrorist movements.

It has nothing to do with liberalism or teh U.S. It’s because Qatar and its state media (Al-Jazeera) tend to take Iran’s side against SA and its coterie. It’s Cold War 101: don’t attack you enemy, attack their smaller allies and vassals. Any harm caused Qatar would be perceived as a loss of face for Iran.

Most of the reason is this. Al-Jazeera publishes things that would not pass the censors in other countries. Not that Qatar has a free press, but they censor differently. Because of the close connections between the press and government, the other governments are punishing Qatar for what their press does.

Agree, nothing to do with ‘liberalism’, or ‘free press’ in Qatar. Though also not about Qatar’s support of ‘terrorism’ as stated by SA. It’s about Qatar’s tilt toward Iran, as expressed in the state controlled media (Al-J) and Qatar’s physical proximity as perceived Iranian proxy. If a further away perceived pro-Iranian Arab country had Al-Jazeera that probably wouldn’t be enough, so I also don’t agree with the posts saying it’s all about Al-J. The simple thing it’s all about is Iran.

Isn’t one of our Naval Area Commands–dont know what they’re actually called (e.g. “Pacific Command”) based in Qatar?

Al Udid Air Base is there. It hosts the forward HQ for US Centcom as well as UK and Qatari units.

Wow. No answer yet pointing to the Muslim Brotherhood? After all, that’s the main issue being cited by the countries severing the ties.

The accusation is that Qatar is a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood is seen by many Arab states as being a destabilizing influence that sponsors, if not participates directly in terrorist activities. See, for example, the current status of Egypt for the reasoning behind this.

Qatar has been a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood for some time. Articles going back at least five years discuss this relationship. It’s a source of conflict with other Arab regimes, especially Saudi Arabia, which fear the destabilizing effects of that organization. And, of course, Qatar and the Saud family have been rivals for a long, long, LONG time.

One would LIKE to think that this sudden unwillingness of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt to have significant ties with “supporters” of the MB, Hezbollah, Hamas, etc. is an indication that they intend to be more diligent about stamping out radical factions that promote terror as a means of obtaining power/influence. But I suspect it’s just a political spat between the oil powers. After all, the Saudis aren’t all that upset with the efforts of the MB in Yemen; as long as they are helping against the Shi’ite insurgents, all is good.

Here’s one article that explains some of what the current kerfluffle is about: Discord in the Persian Gulf

Well this is interesting. If the countries involved also embargo Qatar, it will have real problems. There will be no overland trade routes, and the only way the supplies would get in is across Persian Gulf from Iran.

I don’t know how credible the European Council on Foreign Relations is, but this analysis of the leadership transition in Qatar notes a long association with Islamist organizations and support for the Muslim Brotherhood going back to the 1950s. (I do recall that the abdication in 2013 was related to the perception that the incumbent ruler was too pro-Islamist).

Qatar has been rubbing Saudi the wrong way for a long time. It is the home of Al-Jazeera network. Saudi companies have been banned from advertising on the network for about forever.

There have been other good Arabic news outfits before, but they were based in London. Al-Jazeera is based in a sort of a diplomatic bubble in Qatar. The local government has kept its promise to let them broadcast what they like. This upsets the Saudis who do not like a free press.

I noticed tensions moving up about a week ago when the Saudi press reported the local King (whose name escapes me) said that his nation had good relations with both Israel and Iran.

All in all, the region is picking sides, pro-Iran or pro-Saudi. Qatar seems to be trying to keep in the middle. The Qataris are used to using to getting (or buying) their own way and do not like being bossed around.

Just a nitpick, over the past few years the Qataris have let AJ say more or less whatever they want. They might not like the occasional adverse coverage, but they are now much savvier at media relations and they realize that AJ gives them outsized influence globally.

It is reported (by al Jazeera) that Qatari media had recently been hacked, and ‘fake news’ has been broadcast in regards to the Emir of Qatar and his purported statements about Iran and Israel, though the actuality of that is unknown. Al Jazeera further reports that several other news outlets have grabbed the ‘fake’ stories and repeatedly retransmitted them.

It appears that SA & Co. are seriously hacked off by the content of these reports, but how much of that is real, and how much is smokescreen, I wouldn’t care to guess.

al Jazeera’s feed on the subject.

The simple thing is that the Saudi’s have lost all their marbles.

That’s been true for decades, though.

Simply about the Saudi attitude toward Iran I should have said. One can argue about how reasonable that attitude is, and also in general that Iran is just misunderstood, gradually being taken over by ‘liberals’ etc. Last week’s Economist article about the Iranian ‘election’ basically took that position. I don’t buy it and think SA is still lesser of evils if you have to pick a side, but I agree that’s a matter of opinion. Point is again it’s not the Saudi’s being pissed off at Qatari (pseudo) liberalism and ‘free press’. It’s about their increased confidence to take a ‘you are with us or against us’ position wrt neighbors alignment with Iran, now that the Saudi’s are reassured the US isn’t shifting to being more aligned with Iran. That’s what has changed.

The latest explanation:


Alessan has it best here.

Although there is the added issue of the Qatari support to the Brotherhood.

This is inaccurate and repeatin propaganda of the Ibn Saud.

Many = The Ibn Saud and their clients. So basically Saudis, the Emiratis and the Al Sisi regime.

It is not the image or the understanding of any of the rational observers or most of the Arab region states.

Other arab regimes = The Ibn Saudi, the Emiratis and the Egyptian regime.


What a bizarre and incoherent mix… the Shia Hezbullah of Lebanon mixed in with the Hamas, their sunni enemy. Never mind putting the Ikhouan in with them.

it is nonsense.

Of course the Bahrain position is all about their desiring the carte blanche to engage in a police state repression of the already oppressed Shia minority - waving the “extremist terrorist flag” for you all…

yes very much.

yes also

it is not to be forgotten relative to the Ibn Saud that it is not only their Wahhabi hatred of the Shia but also the regime fear of the large Saudi Shia minority in the east, who are horribly oppressed and discriminated against. The omni-paranoia of the Ibn Saudi about the Iran is not just a religious thing, it is a domestic political point and a point of the fragility of their political system.