28 June 2017
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
The Foreign policy of President Trump is slowly but steadily working to increase its arms sale to the world. The advantages of arms trade for the USA without any expenditure on US part are great. Upon his visit to Saudi Arabia that resulted in tensions in the Arab world as Qatar is being targeted by other Arab nations, Trump has got a lump sum trade deal from Qatar to the tune of whopping $ 12 billion. It is a problem as US regime attempts to navigate an ongoing diplomatic crisis in the Gulf.
On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain announced they were cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar for its support for “terrorism.” Along with severing diplomatic relations, the Riyadh-led blockade was imposed against Doha. Saudi, which shares the only land border with Qatar, shut the crossing and stopped goods being transported to its gas-rich neighbor. Saudi, UAE, and Bahrain also closed their airspace to flights to and from Qatar, forcing airlines to remove Doha from their list of destinations.
President Trump’s first-ever recent foreign tour in Middle East, where a fanatically arrogant Israel behaves like the regional superpower with the US made illegal nukes plus high precision conventional terror goods, including cluster bombs that are being bought by third world countries across the globe, has cussed ripples among Arab nations, leading to the ouster of Qatar from the Gulf States club. This, as foreseen by Washington, has naturally isolated Qatar to search for alternative routes to secure its security.
Qatari Defense Minister Khalid Al-Attiyah and his US counterpart, Jim Mattis, completed the $12 billion agreement in Washington to buy F-15 fighter jets from the USA, according to the Pentagon. The aircraft purchase was completed by Qatari Minister of Defence Khalid Al Attiyah and his US counterpart Jim Mattis in Washington DC on June 14 Wednesday.
The weapon transfer comes just weeks after Trump signed a deal with Saudi Arabia for almost $110bn in US arms. It also comes amid a diplomatic row between a Saudi-led bloc of nations and Qatar. Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain and some other countries severed relations with Qatar earlier this month, accusing it of supporting armed groups and Iran – allegations Qatar has repeatedly rejected. Riyadh also closed its border with Qatar, the only land border the emirate has. Also, the closure of Saudi, Bahraini, and Emirati airspace to Qatar-owned flights has caused major import and travel disruptions.
Huge Qatari deal for 36 F-15 jets from the USA is significant as the two countries navigate tensions over President Donald Trump’s backing for a Saudi-led coalition’s move to isolate the country for supporting terrorism.
The deal was completed despite the Gulf state being criticized recently by US President Donald Trump for supporting terrorism. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and representatives from Qatar were all set to meet to seal the agreement for 36 jets. In November, the United States approved the possible sale of up to 72 F-15QA aircraft to Qatar for $21.1 billion. Boeing Co is the prime contractor on the fighter jet sale to the Middle East nation. Boeing declined to comment. Trump on Friday accused Qatar of being a “high-level” sponsor of terrorism, potentially hindering the US Department of State’s efforts to ease heightening tensions and a blockade of the Gulf nation by Arab states and others. The sale will increase security cooperation and interoperability between the USA and Qatar, the Pentagon said.
The deal is “yet another step in advancing our strategic and cooperative defense relationship with the United States, and we look forward to continuing our joint military efforts with our partners here in the USA,” said Attiyah. The sale “will give Qatar a state-of-the-art capability and increase security cooperation and interoperability between the United States and Qatar,” the Defence Department said in a statement.
Last year, after the State Department approved the jet sale, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency issued a report saying that the proposed transaction enhances the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country and strengthening our strategic relationship. “Qatar is an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Persian Gulf region,” the agency said. Good for them and their defense in the long run. The current dispute between us should hopefully be temporary and end soon. The real enemy is and has always been the Persian Iranians on the other side.
American terror base
Qatar has long been accused of funneling money to the Muslim Brotherhood — which has officially forsworn violence but is still charged with terrorism by some countries — as well as to radical groups in Syria, Libya, and other Arab nations. But it is also home to two major American command posts, including a $60 million center from which the United States and its allies conduct their air war on Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
Qatar hosts the biggest US military base in the Middle East with US 11,000 troops and coalition service members deployed to or assigned to Al-Udeid Air Base in the desert outside the Qatari capital of Doha. More than 100 aircraft operate from there. The Al Udeid U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), a military base in Qatar, was set up in 2003 after it was moved from the Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia. The base, which boasts a long runway of 12,500 feet, is an important facility for the U.S. as it can accommodate up to 120 aircraft. The base in Qatar serves as logistics, command and basing hubs for the U.S. CENTCOM area of operations, including Iraq and Afghanistan.
In another development, two US Navy vessels arrived in Doha for a joint exercise with Qatar’s fleet. The American boats arrived at Hamad Port south of Doha “to participate in a joint exercise with the Qatari Emiri Navy,” according to a Ministry of Defence statement posted on QNA. The crews of the two vessels were received by Qatari Navy officers. It was unclear if the arrival of the two warships was planned before the Gulf rift or if it was a sign of support from the Pentagon.
Saudi-led GCC wants the USA to shift its airbase from Qatar. The US military lauded Qatar for its “enduring commitment to regional security” and said U.S. flights out of Al-Udeid airbase in Qatar were unaffected by the Gulf diplomatic crisis and also stated that it has “no plans to change our posture in Qatar.”
Trump accused Qatar of being a “high-level” sponsor of terrorism, potentially hindering the US Department of State’s efforts to ease heightening tensions and a blockade of the Gulf nation by Arab states and others. Officials at White House said Trump was not trying to cause a rupture among Sunni Muslim countries in the Middle East. A US diplomat noted that Russia had much to gain from divisions among Iran’s rivals in the region, particularly if they made it more difficult for the United States to use Qatar as a major base. “For sure, this is an attempt at regime change.”
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said Qatar needed to end its support for Hamas before ties with other Arab Gulf states could be restored. Hamas responded to the statements saying they “constitute a shock for our Palestinian people and the Arab and Islamic nations,” and that the remarks gave Israel an excuse “to carry out more violations against the Palestinian people.”
Gulf Arab states and Egypt have long resented Qatar’s support for Islamists, especially the Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood, which they regard as a dangerous political enemy. The coordinated move, with the Maldives and Libya’s eastern-based government joining in later, created a dramatic rift among the Arab nations, many of which are in OPEC. Announcing the closure of transport ties with Qatar, the three Gulf States gave Qatari visitors and residents two weeks to leave. Qatar was also expelled from the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.
Turkey’s presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said on June 14 that the crisis surrounding Qatar is damaging for the Islamic world and Turkey is working to help resolve the issue through diplomacy. Speaking at a press conference, Kalın said Ankara was sending food assistance to Qatar after neighboring Gulf Arab states severed ties with Doha and imposed sanctions saying it supports terrorism and courts regional rival Iran. Kalın also said a Turkish military base in Qatar, set up before the regional spat, was established to ensure the security of the whole region and did not have an aim of any military action against any country.
The current Qatar-Gulf crisis has offered fascist Israel a golden opportunity to normalize its abnormal presence in the region, undermine the Palestinian cause and deliver a sharp blow to the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas. Under the pretext of fighting “terrorism,” the anti-Hamas, anti-political Islam coalition seems to be emerging with the Saudi-led bloc and Israel at its heart. Israel’s rapid adoption of the Saudi position confirms that the two countries share Israel’s vision on regional developments and the Palestinian cause.
Israel, which has only signed peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, stands to benefit most from the Qatar-Gulf crisis. The Gulf crisis “will serve to undermine Hamas and redraw regional policies by the Israeli visions as Israel seeks to normalize its relations with the Arab states while isolating the Palestinian question.” Following the crisis, Israeli officials’ repeated statements centered on fighting “terrorism” and hopes for “cooperation” with the Gulf States on security concerns. “There can be no doubt that this opens many opportunities for collaboration in the war against terror. The state of Israel is more than open to such cooperation. The ball is now in their court,” said Avigdor Lieberman, the Zionist illegal settlers’ leader, and Israeli military minister, at the Israeli parliament on June 6.
Israel is in need of Qatar’s mediation to deal with some of the pricklier issues in the Hamas-administered Gaza Strip, such as funds for reconstruction. The Gaza Strip, a small enclave that is home to about two million residents, has been under an Israeli blockade for more than a decade. It has witnessed three Israeli assaults that have resulted in the destruction of essential infrastructure and the impoverishment of its residents. In the face of the Israeli siege and its occupation of Gaza, Qatar has been one of the biggest financial contributors to the strip’s reconstruction.
Israel is hoping to make political gains from the Gulf crisis and the blockade on Qatar by weakening Hamas and undermining its influence in the Gaza Strip, and demonizing it in the Arab world under the pretext of “terrorism.” The Saudi attack on Hamas and its portrayal of the movement as a “terrorist organization” serve the Israeli agenda and is consistent with Israel’s goal to eliminate the Palestinian cause.
The purpose of Israel isolating Qatar was to pressure it to withdraw its support for Hamas and to pressure it to fall back in line with Saudi policies, or what Israel describes as the “moderate” Arab camp.
Playing on regional rifts in the Arab world, with the divide between the Gulf States and Iran, Israeli officials and analysts often speak of an unofficial “moderate axis” of Arab countries that are purportedly working behind the scenes with the Israeli government. In this “alliance”, Western-backed countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and several of the Gulf states, as well as Jordan and Morocco, are said to be pitted against their “common enemies” such as Syria, Iran, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, etc.
These are longstanding tensions that have been bubbling under the surface but with the reported comment from Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani last week where he was alleged to have said positive things about Iran and negative things about other states was seen as an opportunity for the other influential Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and the Emirates to actually clamp down on Qatar.
The US stance amid the Gulf’s diplomatic rift was thrown into further confusion when Tillerson called on Saudi Arabia to ease the blockade on Qatar. The US’ top diplomat has since attempted to mediate between the two sides, and on Tuesday the State Department said efforts to resolve the crisis were “trending in a positive direction.”
Meanwhile, President Trump thrust himself into a bitter Persian Gulf dispute, taking credit for Saudi Arabia’s move to isolate its smaller neighbor, Qatar, and rattling his national security staff by upending a critical American strategic relationship. In a series of tweets, Trump said his call for an end to the financing of radical groups had prompted Saudi Arabia and four other countries to act this week against Qatar, a tiny, energy-rich emirate that is arguably America’s most important military outpost in the Middle East. “During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there could no longer be funding of Radical Ideology,” he said, pointing to Qatar — look!” The president also appeared to be trying to ease tensions. In a call with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Trump said that unity among Gulf nations was “critical to defeating terrorism and promoting regional stability,” according to a White House statement.
Trump during his visit focused his attention on Saudi Arabia and the UAE perhaps ignoring Qatar suggesting Trump’s policies are directed towards the two countries at the expense of Qatar and other weaker states in the region. But the current standoff between GCC nations and Qatar has put the U.S. in a tight spot for some reasons. US Defense Secretary James Mattis and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson offered US support in brokering a solution between the feuding nations.
The Pentagon military has been eager to avoid political quarrels with the Qataris, a goal reflected in statements by its spokesmen. “The United States and the coalition are grateful to the Qataris for their longstanding support of our presence and their enduring commitment to regional security.” An American diplomat in Doha said that Qatar’s relationship with the United States was “strong” and that it had made strides: prosecuting people suspected of funding terrorist groups, freezing assets and putting stringent controls on its banks.
Tension and confusion
Thanks to US interference and Israeli mischief, the Arab world is not undergoing a phase of continued stress and unavoidable confusion.
Everyone wants the USA on their side, and hence the Qatari deals with it in a hurry as Qatar knows only arms deals and pumping of money into the USA can make the USA be in good humor.
Saudi Arabia is just doing the monkey’s job of doing exactly what is told by the Superpower. Saudi Arabia might feel elated that it has done a great favor to the new US President so that he would ask the NATO to attack Iran, thereby appeasing the Saudis.
Everybody and every nation are free to daydream. Riyadh also can do that but cannot expect the USA to listen to it just like American leaders obey Israel with which it conducts secret destabilizing operations globally, especially in West Asia. Here the winner is, of course, the USA-Israel fascist twins- and not Saudi Arabia that managed the Arab show as the leader of the Sunni world by gathering all other Arab nations to slam and boycott Qatar.
Perhaps, the Arab world is destined to become and stay destabilized. There could be widespread instability in the region if the situation between Riyadh and Doha deteriorates further. Meanwhile, Israel also fears that if the Gaza crisis escalates, causing major splits and disputes within the Hamas movement, which could lead to an armed confrontation between the movement and Israel. But if the Saudi and Egyptian pressure leads Qatar to stop supporting Hamas, this could worsen the economic distress in Gaza as well as the military tension with Israel.
Religion is a major factor, but this is a political struggle between the Saudis and the Iranians and of course the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt all fall in line with this. Arab leaders think exactly as US leaders want.
The danger in besieging Qatar lies in the potential adoption of a new tone governing diplomacy between Arab countries, which could have negative repercussions on the Palestinian cause.
Arab nations with their foolishness have time and again proven that they are indeed the cause of Hamas-Fatah inner fight and confrontation that directly helps Israel and USA.