While conflict with Israel gets the most press in the U.S., the primary conflict in the Mideast is between Saudi Arabia (along with Turkey) seeking Sunni influence in the region and working to counter Shia Iran. The conflict in Syria, for instance, is largely a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Saudis have fought Iran-backed rebels in Yemen over the past several years.
Qatar hosts a major US military installation, but has also been accused of supporting terrorism. Saudi Arabia, of course, fits that same description. Tensions between Qatar and other regional powers especially Saudi Arabia are hardly new. While Shia Islam is a minority in Qatar, it’s hardly an oppressed minority. Saudi Arabia was emboldened after the U.S. President’s visit there in May.
— gary leff (@garyleff) May 21, 2017
Comments were recently broadcast by Qatar state media suggesting that Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani was in support of Iran and Hezbollah (and suggesting that Donald Trump wouldn’t remain in power long). These comments were the predicate for the effective blockade against Qatar by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and other countries in the region.
Museum of Islamic Art, Doha
Flights in and out of Qatar have become more difficult. Airlines like Etihad, Emirates, and Gulf Air aren’t flying to Doha. And the severing of relations has created limits on Qatari-registered aircraft flying through the airspace of some of the countries involved.
Qatar does not have its own flight information region, it’s within the Bahrain region. The Doha terminal control area is from ground to 24,500 feet, and above 24,500 feet is the Bahrain Upper Information Region. Traffic is re-routing primarily via Iran. There are only two routes for air traffic in and out of Qatar.
The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, in late May that sparked the ongoing upheaval between Qatar and its neighbors, according to U.S. intelligence officials.
Officials became aware last week that newly analyzed information gathered by U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed that on May 23, senior members of the UAE government discussed the plan and its implementation. The officials said it remains unclear whether the UAE carried out the hacks itself or contracted to have them done.
Hamad International Airport, Doha
The underlying issues between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors remain. And while the U.S. would normally be a countervailing force holding these powers in check, the President’s public statements of support or Saudi Arabia and critical of Qatar have undermined the Secretary of State’s efforts to bring about a rapprochement.