The ongoing Qatari crisis followed a high number of diplomatic negotiations as well as political and economic deals by powers involved in the Middle Eastern geopolitical standoff.
- US President Donald Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov behind closed doors at the White House on May 10. The sides discussed a wide range of issues, including “Ukraine, Syria, and bilateral issues.”
- On May 20, Trump arrived Riyadh where he participated in establishing of a larger anti-Iranian front in the Middle East and made a $750 million military sale to Saudi Arabia.
- On June 5, the Qatari crisis started in the Middle East with Saudi Arabia and some other countries cutting ties with the gulf state. Following the start of the crisis, Trump confirmed that he supports the anti-Qatari actions and believes that “Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”
All these developments took place amid the collapse of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. There is little doubt that Qatar provided funds and support to ISIS. However, Doha would not be able to do this without at least formal coordination with the US and its special services. Qatar hosts the largest US military base in the Middle East.
According to some experts, the whole story could take its start during the Lavrov-Trump meeting in Washington. The Russian side could provide hard evidence of the involvement of the US-led Middle Eastern bloc (not only Qatar) in supporting of terrorism.
In this situation, Qatar was chosen to be a whipping boy for the international community. Furthermore, almost all involved sides have own reasons to blame Qatar.
- The US is interested in a public effect of the ongoing war of terror. The Obama administration had made major efforts in order to get a label of the state-sponsor of terrorism. Now, the Trump administration has to deal with it.
- Saudi Arabia and Israel have a joint interests. They both oppose to the Palestinian organization “Hamas” and to the Muslim Brotherhood supported by Qatar. Riyadh and Tel Aviv keep a joint front against the so-called Iranian threat. In turn, Qatar has more freedom of action in this case and maintains relatively close ties with Iran.
- Russia may be interested in removing Qatar as a source of funds for terrorists operating in Syria. Qatar supports various jihadi factions in the country. Furthermore, Doha is the source of funding for radicals operating near the southern Russian borders.
Probably, Turkey is the only power interested in defending Qatar. On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced disapproval of the sanctions on Qatar. But who cares?
Thus, the US, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Turkey already revealed their positions over the Qatari crisis. Russia and Iran remained relatively neutral. Moreover, there is a possibility that Moscow has contributed some efforts to create the current situation.
Qatar could respond to the crisis with to steps:
- To boost ties with Iran in order to obtain its military and diplomatic support in case a full-scale diplomatic and economic confrontation with neighboring countries. Doha deeply depends on its energy sector and Tehran may help with logistics of the gas and oil trade via the Persian Gulf.
- To follow the Turkish approach and to boost relations with the Russian-oriented block in the region.