More than 100 days of conflict around Qatar have passed and, as they say, it is now there. All the efforts of a number of countries to resolve the conflict peacefully by means of negotiations between the parties concerned have not yet yielded concrete results. Not the least role in this was played by the inconsistent, not enough professional policy of the Washington administration in this important region of the world. And there are a lot of examples.
The attack on Doha began immediately after the “incorruptible” Donald Trump, laden with rich gifts, left Riyadh. After that, the Saudis, who understood that they could now do as they pleased, decided to put Qatar in its place and make it play completely according to the Saudi rules. Initially, Washington also started talking, though without mentioning names, about the sponsors of terrorists. However, it was understood that the issue was with Qatar and its policy in Syria, which had been suffering for a number of years from terrorists. But then, the US backtracked and started talking about a peaceful resolution to the Qatari conflict. At the time the President of the United States tirelessly scribbled comments on Twitter, condemning Qatar’s actions, US Defense Secretary James Mattis visited Doha to express his support for the Emir. The US administration also approved the sale to Qatar of F-15 fighter aircraft worth an estimated USD12 billion. This is apparently in order to repulse the planned Riyadh attempt at the very beginning of the conflict of the “brotherly” occupation of the neighboring emirate.
At the same time, Britain has decided to demonstrate its support for the emirate, which has been in the orbit of the British foreign policy for many decades. In Doha, British Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon, with whom Head of the Ministry of Defense of Qatar Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah held successful negotiations, was received with pomp. During the meeting, the parties discussed regional developments and bilateral military cooperation, including the fight against terrorism. In addition, an agreement was signed on military cooperation that provides for the purchase of 24 Typhoon fighters from Great Britain. In other words, the Qatar Emir hastened to strengthen ties for certain purchases of military equipment with the United States and Great Britain.
However, concerns about the crisis around Qatar continue to grow in the White House, as reported by the Washington Post with reference to sources in the Washington administration. “We invested a lot of money there,” it states, quoting a White House representative. “Is it acceptable that the American business starts telling us about the cancellation of their contracts because of the situation in the [Persian] Gulf?” And, so that no one doubts, the newspaper emphasizes that the US administration is aware of the progress of Doha in the fight against terrorism.
Well, what about Qatar and his young Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani? How did he behave in such a difficult situation? The Emir quite calmly accepted all the charges that were being leveled against Qatar, and afterwards also rejected them quietly, stating that he would not allow anyone to interfere in the internal and external affairs of the independent emirate. And that no one should be tempted to want to occupy the emirate, as was the case of Bahrain in its time, he then forced the deployment of a Turkish military contingent in the emirate in the framework of earlier agreements on the establishment of a Turkish military base in that country. In addition, the Qatari military, together with the Turks, conducted maneuvers to repel the external threat.
Global media outlets reported that Saudi Arabia was close to “conquering” Qatar, as evidenced by the leakage of electronic messages allegedly written by UAE Ambassador to the US, Yousef Al Otaiba. In his correspondence with former American diplomat Elliott Abrams, Yousef Al Otaiba notes: “The seizure of Qatar will solve all problems. Literally. And the Saudi King Abdullah, a few months before his death in January 2015, was close to doing something similar with Qatar.”
However, if the establishment of a Turkish base on the peninsula is only now being planned, the powerful Al Udeid Air Base, which is the most important platform for US operations in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, has been around for a very long time. This base is one of several American strongholds in the Persian Gulf, and is intended, including for operations against Iran, if they arise. In mid-September, the Emir visited the base, was photographed with United States soldiers in front of military aircraft, and met with high-ranking U.S. officials. State media published a stencil poster by Sheikh Ta’mim depicting an image that is now perceived in Doha as a sign of support for the ruler in the midst of the boycott. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and the Americans “considered the issue of joint military cooperation and mutual cooperation between the two countries in the fight against terrorism,” the state news agency of Qatar reports.
It may be recalled that there are about 10,000 United States military personnel in Qatar, most of them located at the large Al Udeid Air Base located south of the country’s capital, Doha. The capital is home to the most advanced operational base of the United States Central Command. For comparison, military experts estimate Qatar’s own military power at about 11,800 troops. This is one of the smallest armies in the region. Thus, the United States has sufficient military forces here to fully monitor and influence any changes in the political system.
However, to somewhat soften the pro-Qatari position, representative of the Central Command of the US troops, Air Force Colonel John Thomas, stated that there had been no substantive negotiations. According to him, US bases often host the leaders of the countries in which they are located. But, for some reason, in this case, the visit took place at the time of the aggravation of relations between Qatar and other Arab countries and when Washington had decided to take certain measures to resolve the conflict.
Having decided to demonstrate the strength of his regime even at such a difficult time, the Emir of Qatar left the emirate in the care of his government and paid a brief visit to Turkey, France and Germany. Incidentally, these visits brought additional benefits to the Qatari, since in all these countries, their leaders covertly support Doha position. For example, according to a statement from the meeting, French President Emmanuel Macron called for the lifting of the embargo from Qatar. After a meeting with the Qatari leader, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel remarked, “We observe with concern that even a hundred days after the beginning of this conflict, no options for its resolution are yet in sight.” The German leader also added that Germany supports the mediation efforts of Kuwait and the United States to resolve the Qatari crisis. The official information on the outcome of the meeting in Turkey, which was held behind closed doors, differs in the absence of the public perception of any details of the talks. Be as it may, the newspaper Hurriyet Daily News believes that much of the conversation was devoted to finding a diplomatic solution to the crisis between the Arab states of the Persian Gulf.
Having considered all the above facts, it can be concluded that at the moment, the so-called Qatar crisis has moved into a permanent state, where neither party has neither a superiority nor a concrete solution. The West so far is fully satisfied with this state of affairs, as additional military procurement could be imposed on the countries of the region, as well as in the time necessary for the West to settle this contrived conflict. There is no doubt, however, that Donald Trump will suffice to say a few words, and there will be no trace of the strained state of affairs between the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf.
Victor Mikhin, a corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”