Two weeks after Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, chaos reigned in the Gulf Countries. The US song of ‘Qatar funding terrorism’, found a strong audience in the Middle East. And this time, there were serious consequences.
The Story So Far
Qatar has been blamed for funding terrorist activities because it maintains cordial relation with Iran and supports the 100-year-old Muslim Brotherhood. This has led to a growing feeling of uneasiness among Qatar’s allies and neighbours.
Trump visited Saudi Arabia to seal a $110 billion defence contract that would facilitate the building of an anti-extremist Institute in Riyadh and encourage other Gulf countries to build an alliance against Iran.
His tweet suggested that the Middle Eastern countries blamed Qatar for encouraging terrorism and he appeared to take credit for the blockage against Qatar in a series of tweets later.
A diplomatic freeze of the nation by its neighbours followed two weeks after Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia where he promised to improve U.S. relations with Cairo and Riyadh.
Several countries severed ties with Oman, these include – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Mauritius, Mauritania, the UN-backed government of Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Maldives. This ensued an endless abuse of human rights.
- The Gulf country citizens residing in Qatar were given a 14-day notice to leave the country and vice versa, Qatar Nationals were asked to return to Qatar in the same amount of time. Families were separated, and the right to work, travel was abused.
- Most of the food in Qatar is imported, but with Saudi Arabia blocking the only trade border, the country is experiencing an immense food shortage.
- Airspace and sea traffic rights to Qatar have been suspended by Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Major companies such as FlyDubai, Emirates and Etihad Airways have banned all flights to Qatar. Likewise, Qatar Airways cancelled all flights to the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, shut down Qatar Airways offices on its land. All their flights have been rerouted through Iran and Turkey.
- Qatar withdrew its support of Saudi from the Yemen War.
- Qatari flagged shipping vessels are banned from docking on the Saudi Port. Shipping agents were ordered to reject vessels owned by residents or companies in Qatar and were further instructed to not load any goods coming from the ‘faulting nation’.
- UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia banned postal services to Qatar, which affected the daily lives of millions of citizens.
- Qatar withdrew its peacekeeping forces from the conflicted Djiboutian–Eritrean; both lands that have sided the Gulf countries over Qatar.
While the rift between Qatar and its neighbouring countries started with the allies looking down on Qatar. Trump’s visit just escalated it, deepening the gulf crisis even more.
What is surprising is that days after Trumps bashing of Qatar as a terrorist funding nation; the United States sold fighter jets worth $ 12 billion to Qatar. Additionally, Navy Vessels from the U.S. continued to have a joint military exercise with the Qatari Navy.
While we cannot comment on the existing relationship between the two countries, one thing is for sure, that this budding crisis could affect Trumps Middle East policy; where the Gulf countries take a united stand to eradicate terrorism. Moreover, in the short-term, it has immensely affected the daily lives of people in terms of the food, air fuel and ticket prices skyrocketing; in the long-term, it can have major economic consequences with a worldwide impact.