Saudi-Qatari conflict and Donald Trump

This video from the USA says about itself:

Max Blumenthal – What’s Really Going on In Iran & Qatar?

7 June 2017

Big Picture Interview: Max Blumenthal, Senior Editor-AlterNet‘s Grayzone Project. Iran is blaming Saudi Arabia and by proxy the United States today after ISIS killed 12 people and wounded 42 more in a brazen attack in [the] heart of Tehran. In a statement, Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards drew a direct connection between this morning’s slaughter and Donald Trump’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia – and said that “the fact that the Islamic State [ISIS] has claimed responsibility proves that they [the Saudis] were involved in the brutal attack.” So – were they?

This video from the USA says about itself:

Saudí Soccer Team Refuses Moment Of Silence For London Attack Víctims

11 June 2017

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Trump contradicts Tillerson with line on Doha blockade

Monday 12th June 2017

SAUDI-aligned Arab states that have laid virtual siege to Qatar praised US President Donald Trump at the weekend for supporting them when he told Doha to stop “the funding of terrorism.”

His intervention positioned Washington firmly in the camp of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which severed ties with Qatar last week, accusing the Gulf state of sponsoring terrorism.

President Trump said that Qatar “has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level.

“The time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding — they have to end that funding — and its extremist ideology in terms of funding.”

Mr Trump’s comments contradicted his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who sent a different message from Washington earlier, telling Qatar’s neighbours to ease their blockade and urging “calm and thoughtful dialogue.”

Qatar denies backing extremist groups but is implicated — as are its principal critics — in arming various jihadist outfits fighting to overthrow the Syrian government, including Isis and al-Qaida affiliates.

Turkey, whose government is rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Qatari monarchy supports, has offered to provide food and medicine to help ease its isolation.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Ankara hoped that the rift between the “Muslim countries” would end “through peaceful dialogue before the religious holiday,” referring to Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, welcoming his Qatari counterpart to Moscow, said that his country would make every effort to help ease the tensions.

This Al Jazeera video from Qatar says about itself:

10 June 2017

Inside Story – Blockade on Qatar is ‘toying’ with people’s lives

Human righhts group Amnesty International has condemned the blockade taken by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain against Qatar, saying the countries are toying with the lives of thousands of Gulf residents as part of their dispute with Qatar.

On Monday, the three Gulf countries ordered Qatari nationals to leave their countries within 14 days.

Their citizens were also given the same time to leave Qatar.

As a result, hundreds of mixed families are facing the grim prospect of being separated from their loved ones.

So, how can human rights be protected in the political crisis?

Presenter: Jane Dutton


Saad Sultan al-Abdulla – Director of the International Co-operation Department at the Qatar National Human Rights Committee.

Sultan Barakat – Director at the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies at the Doha Institute.

James Lynch – Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Global Issues Programme.

By Jordan Shilton:

Gulf crisis could lead to war, says German foreign minister

12 June 2017

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned over the weekend that the Gulf crisis, triggered by the decision by a Saudi-led coalition of Persian Gulf sheikhdoms and Egypt to break off diplomatic ties with Qatar over accusations of funding terrorist organizations, could lead to war.

Referring to the “dramatic harshness” in relations between the Gulf States, Gabriel told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, “There is a danger that this dispute could lead to war.” Noting his involvement in talks over the past week to resolve the situation, including face-to-face meetings with his Saudi and Qatari counterparts and phone calls with the foreign ministers of Iran and Kuwait, Gabriel added that he saw “good chances” for reaching a solution.

Gabriel’s remarks underscore the explosive geopolitical conflicts rapidly emerging over the Gulf crisis. His warning about the threat of war has nothing to do with a German commitment to pacifism, but is in fact part of Berlin’s strategy to extend its imperialist interests in the region at the expense of the United States.

Gabriel spoke less than two days after US President Donald Trump indicated his full backing for Riyadh’s measures, which have included the breaking of all diplomatic ties, the expulsion of all Qatari citizens from the territories of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain within 14 days, the closing of these countries’ airspaces to Qatari aircraft, and the placing of 59 individuals and 12 charities with links to Qatar on a “terror watchlist.”

Trump declared Friday that the moves were “harsh but necessary” and according to a White House official added that Qatar “deserves it.” His comments exposed sharp divisions within the US state over its policy in the Gulf, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging a de-escalation of the crisis only an hour prior to Trump’s comments. Tillerson speaks on behalf of sections of the military, which is concerned that the largest US base in the region, from which the wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are directed, could be under threat due to the isolation of Qatar.

Saudi Arabia felt emboldened to act against Qatar following Trump’s visit to Riyadh three weeks ago, during which he demonized Iran as the main source of terrorism in the region and urged Sunni states to form an alliance to push back Teheran’s influence. The Saudi move also seeks to consolidate Riyadh’s dominance in the Gulf, with its government demanding that Qatar abandon any semblance of an independent foreign policy by dropping its economic and diplomatic engagement with Iran and support for political groups in the region like Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Gabriel and the German ruling class are increasingly hostile to this agenda. Earlier last week, the SPD Foreign Minister took a direct shot at Washington, criticizing the “trumpification” of relations between the Gulf States in an interview with Handelsblatt. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who clashed with Trump at last month’s NATO and G7 summits over trade and defense spending in an expression of the deepening rift between the US and European imperialist powers, attacked Washington’s policy in the Gulf by calling Friday for all nations, including Iran and Turkey, to work to resolve the dispute. In a visit to Mexico City, she stated, “We have to see that the political solution of conflicts…such as the situation in Syria, such as the situation in Libya or the situation in Iraq, won’t happen if certain players are no longer even included in the conversation, and that includes Qatar, it includes Turkey, it includes Iran.”

Gabriel and Merkel are determined to defend and expand German access to the Middle East and the broader region, which offer important markets for exports. In 2016, German companies sold goods worth $47 billion to countries in North Africa and the Near and Middle East. Berlin is firmly opposed to the ratcheting up of tensions by the Trump administration with Iran, including threats to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal with Teheran, which the German ruling elite views as a potential area of expansion for its corporations. Given such substantial economic interests and in light of Germany’s drive over recent years to remilitarize and adopt a more aggressive foreign policy, Gabriel’s raising of the prospect of war in the region should not be taken as an idle threat or an exaggeration.

The conflicts between the major imperialist states are exacerbating the tensions between the regional powers involved. Evidently egged on by Trump’s support, the Saudi-led coalition is reportedly drawing up a list of demands Doha must follow if relations are to be reestablished. These include a scaling back of the country’s Al Jazeera media network, which Riyadh and its allies accuse of promoting political opponents like the Muslim Brotherhood, and a commitment from Doha not to finance political organizations deemed to be extremist by Saudi Arabia.

Turkey and Iran are backing Qatar in the dispute. On Sunday, Teheran announced that its 47th naval flotilla, consisting of a destroyer and logistics warship, would make a stop in Oman on its way to patrol the sea route between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Oman, another member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), has like Kuwait not joined the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar and is seeking to mediate the dispute.

Turkey is to send an increased number of military personnel to Qatar and began supplying supermarkets in the country with groceries after panic buying and trade restrictions led to shortages.

The dispute is already having devastating consequences for the region’s population, which is closely connected by family and other ties. Thousands of mixed families living in all of the states involved have been torn apart by the travel bans, with some instances of parents being separated from their children. Amnesty International issued a report criticizing the violation of human rights for thousands of Gulf States residents, including large populations of guest workers from countries like Nepal, India and Pakistan who could end up losing their right to remain in the region.

The authoritarian regimes in the UAE and Bahrain have adopted laws stipulating that anyone who shows “sympathy” for Qatar will face a lengthy prison sentence of up to 15 years.

Chief responsibility for the Gulf crisis lies in Washington. US imperialism’s reckless drive to assert its control over the energy-rich Middle East and sideline all potential rivals has not only escalated tensions with its imperialist competitors, but inflamed regional divisions. Its attempt to mobilize a Sunni axis to marginalize Iran and its regional allies not only threatens to trigger a regional bloodbath and deepen already widespread sectarian violence that has claimed millions of lives, but also to draw in the major powers on opposing sides in a desperate struggle for economic and geostrategic dominance that poses the direct danger of a global conflagration.

Across the Middle East, there are a growing number of flashpoints that could provoke such a clash. In Syria, where around half a million people have been killed as a result of the US-instigated war for regime change in Damascus, the major powers and their proxies are moving to carve up the country. The US has conducted three attacks in as many weeks on pro-government forces in the south of the country under the pretext of enforcing a “deconfliction zone,” which Russia has refused to recognize.

Washington’s goal is to block the establishment by the Assad regime of a land bridge using territory recaptured from ISIS that would stretch from Teheran through Iraq to Syria and Lebanon. To this end, it is arming and training proxy Islamist forces at the al-Tanf base near the Iraqi and Jordanian borders with the aim of establishing control over territory in eastern Syria.

Pro-government troops, backed by Russian air power, struck a blow at Washington’s plan of pushing north to retake ISIS territory from al-Tanf by reaching the Iraqi border Friday in battles with ISIS.

Regional and global powers stand behind all of these forces. Iranian fighters and Russian air power are backing the Syrian government, including by carrying out air strikes close to the US’s unilaterally declared “deconfliction zone.” US Special Forces are being assisted at al-Tanf by British and Norwegian military personnel and will be relying on the so-called international anti-ISIS coalition, which includes all of NATO’s members. The Times described the emerging battle as “even more decisive” with “far more geopolitical import and risk” than that going on in Raqqa.

6 thoughts on “Saudi-Qatari conflict and Donald Trump

  1. Tuesday 13th June 2017

    posted by Morning Star in World

    QATAR said yesterday that it is shipping cargo through neutral Oman to circumvent the blockade imposed by its three closest Gulf neighbours.

    Qatar’s port authority published a video showing a loaded container ship arriving in Doha’s Hamad port from the Omani port of Sohar to a water-cannon welcome.

    Cargo for Qatar is normally unloaded in the United Arab Emirates deepwater ports of Jebel Ali or Abu Dhabi and is then taken by smaller craft to Doha.

    But the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and a dozen other nations have blockaded Qatar since June 5.

    They demand that Doha end support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, sever diplomatic ties with Iran and cease broadcasts by the Al Jazeera TV news network.

    On Sunday, Al Jazeera reported that two Iranian warships had sailed for Oman.

    The same day, five cargo planes loaded with fresh produce flew from Iran to Qatar to help break the Saudi-led blockade.


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