On June 5, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Yemen cut diplomatic relations with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting “terrorism”.
The list of demands, relayed to Qatar can be summarised as being to “align itself with other Arabs and the Gulf, militarily, politically, socially and economically, as well as in financial matters”. Saudi Arabia and its allies – Bahrain, Emirati Arabi Uniti ed Egitto,have issued a threatening 13-point ultimatum to Qatar as the price for lifting a two-week trade and diplomatic embargo of the country, in a marked escalation of the Gulf’s worst diplomatic dispute in decades.
The onerous list of demands includes stipulations that Doha close the broadcaster al-Jazeera, drastically scale back cooperation with Iran, remove Turkish troops from Qatar’s soil, end contact with groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda and submit to monthly external compliance checks. Qatar has been given 10 days to comply with the demands or face unspecified consequences.
Qatar has denied the accusations, calling the moves to diplomatically isolate it “unjustified”. The European Union and United Kingdom have called on Gulf countries to “de-escalate the tensions and to engage in direct dialogue” following the ongoing crisis between Qatar and other Arab states in the region. US President, Donald Trump, openly sided with the Saudis, he called Qatar a “funder of terrorism at a very high level”. But the State Department issued a blistering critique of Saudi Arabia for enforcing a two-week embargo against Qatar without giving any specific ways to resolve a crisis over accusations of Qatar’s funding of terrorism. US secretary of state Rex Tillerson criticised a 13-point list of demands on Qatar as “very difficult” to meet, warning that both Qatar and the group of Arab states behind the letter needed to tone down their rhetoric. Maybe that to defend the US military base with 11,000 American troops in Qatar. Anyway Qatar’s UN ambassador said the allegations that her country supports terrorism are “sabotaging our relationship with the world, with the west, tarnishing our reputation in a way by using the terrorism card”.
Turkey, Iran and Oman sent a lot of cargo ships filled with food supplies to help break the Qatari blockade. It is important to consider that Qatar and Iran share ownership of the world’s biggest natural gas field, the South Pars/North Dome field, which bears geopolitical significance and threatens oil power and survival of South Arabia. Ankara perceives Doha as one of its key allies, especially after Turkey’s increasing isolation internationally. Turkey now despatch a contingent of soldiers and armoured vehicles to repay Qatar that made a solidarity call to President Erdogan after the Turkish coup attempt last year. Ankara vehemently rejected the accusations that Qatar supports terrorism, arguing the country had been a staunch opponent of Daesh terrorists.
But what is happening in the Middle East and what kind of reading we make of these last events.
The Islamic world is divided into two main factions, Sunnis and Shias. Both drawing their faith and practice from the Quran and agree on most of the fundamentals of Islam but Sunnis and Shias adopted different approaches to some issues. Shias are a minority of the global Muslim population, although they have strong communities in Iraq, Pakistan, Albania, Yemen, Lebanon and Iran. Sunnis comprise about 80-90 percent of the global Muslim population. The Shia have a more hierarchical structure of political and religious authority invested in formally trained clergy whose religious authority is transnational. Shia-Sunni conflicts are raging in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Pakistan and the divide is growing deeper across the Muslim world. But also into Sunni Islam there are some important split among those who are strict and radical and those acting in a more pragmatic basis.
Wahhabism ans Salafism are a strict forms of Sunni Islam practised in Saudi Arabia. They are a puritanical forms of the religion and the term typically refers to a harsh interpretation of early teachings. Wahhabism became tied to Saudi Arabia after the 18th century. Salafism has distinct roots and grew from a reform movement in the last nineteenth and early twentieth century. Their ideas formed the basis of the rules and laws adopted to govern social affairs in modern day Saudi Arabia and had a role in shaping its judicial and educational policies as well. Some claim Wahhabism is responsible for the radicalisation of Muslim. The violent message of terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS can be linked directly to Wahhabism, according to Princeton University Professor Bernard Haykel.
Today the Muslim Brotherhood is far removed from this country and culture. It is a transnational Sunni Islamist organization founded in Egypt. The principles of the Muslim Brotherhood including the introduction of the Islamic Sharia but it works politically and pragmatically to unify Islamic countries and states, mainly among the Arab states. The Muslim Brotherhood supports nationalist organizations in several country. Its members have created political parties such as the Islamic Action Front in Jordan and Hamas in Gaza and West Bank. The Muslim Brotherhood position on political participation varied according to the “domestic situation” of each branch, rather than ideology. It was “collaborationist” in Kuwait and Jordan, for pacific opposition in Egypt and armed opposition in Libano, Libya and Syria.
Qatar backs the Muslim Brotherhood, a pro-Muslim Brotherhood stance has been taken by Tunisia. The Turkish AKP, the ruling party of Turkey, have publicly supported the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2013, the Al Arabiya reported that since the June 30 revolution in Egypt, Turkey has become the regional hub for the Muslim Brotherhood’s International Organization. The Muslim Brotherhood had influence among Shia in Iran. The connection between the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran, based in large part on Iran’s longstanding strong ties to Hamas, an offshoot of the Brotherhood. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates have officially listed the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.
Now It is clear the system of blocs in place in Sunni world. Turkey and Qatar with a pragmatic approach also open to Shia ( like the philosophy of the Ibadhis Muslim in Oman, it is based on principles of religious tolerance ) against radical Sunni Wahhabites, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates who think that they had the only truth.
Here, the development of The Muslim Brotherhood is not only a thorn in the flesh, as it always has been, but also an obstacle for Arabian Gulf monarchies. In the Islamic fratricidal war, the object of the game is to eliminate the opposing players: the Shiite Countries and friends of Muslim Brotherhood, Iran, Qatar and Turkey first. The first step is the expulsion of Qataris from Gulf states, the second is to reduce the Turkey and Iran geopolitical interference.
But this is a reckoning without the appetite for money. Qatar has developed a smart strategy to plan for a time when the country will not be dependent upon its gas reserves. Qatar is a free port, it is an environment to do business. Investments by Qatar’s state-owned companies in Britain are the largest in western Europe: Shell, Barclays, the Shard, Harrods, Canary Wharf and 30 per cent shares in the London Stock Exchange. Qatar Sports Investments, a branch of the emirate’s sovereign wealth fund , completed a buyout of Paris Saint-Germain, the French soccer club known as PSG, that reportedly valued the club at $130 million. Qatar Holding – a subsidiary of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) – bought up a portfolio of properties along the 35-mile-long Emerald Coast on the island of Sardinia. That was followed by the purchase of Valentino Fashion Group, which includes fashion brands Valentino and M Missoni, for an estimated cost of more than 700 million euros.
Qatar has created a network that no one’s cracked. Maybe to counter this Saudi Arabia signed billions of dollars of deals with US companies during President Donald Trump’s visit to Riyadh. Estimates of their total value vary from $300 billion to close to $400 billion. That is the strategy of geopolitical power in Middle East: It moves money as well as infiltrating business, politics and legal and amministrative systems with impunity. Yes, all the elements show the Saudi attempt to take over the political, economic and military leadership of the Middle East before the oil comes out of the scene, but Qatar won’t be an easy opponent.