Qatar, GCC, War, Trump, Rosneft, ISIS, London, Blimey …

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Where to begin with this morning’s news of diplomatic problems between Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE?

First, this is big. Secondly, we can be pretty sure that everyone talking about this knows squat. Including me. Thirdly, it comes back to one basic misunderstanding in the West: namely, that most of us can see about half a mile off the coast – after that, all Arabs look the same. They aren’t. Fourthly, the primary division in the Arab world has nothing to do with the US, or Russia, or terrorism. It’s all about religious differences. And the primary dividing line is between Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims. And even as I say that, I may be talking out my ass.

Leaving aside long Geoffrey notes going back to the history of the region, when the Brits causally rewrote the political geography of their Empire, by drawing new national boundaries with no respect for tribal, ethnic or religious differences. Leaving all that on one side. Trouble in the Middle East was always going to come down to Arab differences. Not mutual hatred of Israel.

But, what exactly is the row within the GCC? With Qatar? Not got a clue. Maybe it is only the fact that the four states breaking off relations with Qatar are essentially Sunni. And Qatar supports Iran, the leading Shiite nation in the region.

Or, maybe it is something more specific. Syria? Iran? Yemen? Al Qaeda? ISIS? Iraq? Oil? Remember, Saudi Arabia is no angel. Al Qaeda and ISIS are essentially Sunni. As is Saudi Arabia. And we have been turning up all sorts of nasty connections there.

But keep watching. This could go military. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the #2 and #3 arms buyers in the world. And Qatar is no slouch. They have all those goodies. They won’t be shy about using them.

In the meantime, and closer to home, exactly what does all of this say about Trump’s business dealings with Qatar? Anyone who said we are living through interesting times was sure not kidding. Oh, that would have been me …

(Facebook comments here.)

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Published in: on June 6, 2017 at 2:57 am  Leave a Comment  

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