FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Saudi Arabia v. Qatar

Saudi Arabia intends to close the local office of the Qatari-owned al Jazeera satellite television station in the latest episode in the escalating conflict in which the Saudis, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are in confrontation with Qatar, say local media.

At the heart of the dispute is Qatar’s backing for the Muslim Brotherhood, which Saudi Arabia banned last Friday, and Qatari opposition to the regime of Field Marshall Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt that came to power in a coup last summer.

Riyadh and Doha now differ on almost every aspect of foreign policy, notably Qatar’s support for jihadi rebels in Syria and al Jazeera’s willingness to provide a television platform for critics of the Gulf monarchs and their allies.

So far Saudi Arabia has not had any success in forcing Qatar to the same political line as the more conservative Gulf states. Gestures such as a withdrawal of the Saudi, Bahraini, UAE and Egyptian ambassadors from Qatar is likely to be ineffectual. Doha remains the base for the Muslim Brotherhood and its spiritual guide, Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, who strongly criticised the UAE authorities after they had jailed dozens of Muslim Brotherhood members.

Qatar’s ruler, Sheikh Tamim al-Thani, is unlikely to bow to Saudi demands that would limit his country’s independence. But the Saudis have implied that they could step up the pressure on him by economic sanctions such as restrictions on use of air space and land borders.

It is unclear how far Saudi Arabia is reordering its foreign and domestic policy by opposing radical Islamic movements and labelling almost all of them as “terrorists”. Under a new decree, any Saudi who fights in a foreign conflict could face 20-30 years in prison as will those supporting them. There are believed to be between 1,000 and 2,000 Saudis fighting in Syria and it is unlikely they will all be detained when they return home.

The Saudi state is also engaged in a project to support a new offensive by rebels in southern Syria and is reported to be offering the rebel fighters anti-aircraft missiles.

Saudi policy remains ambivalent, despite the recent rush of repressive legislation at home and a greater emphasis on diplomacy over military action in dealing with Syria. Saudi preachers on satellite TV continue to call for anti-Shia jihad in Syria.

PATRICK COCKBURN is the author of  Muqtada: Muqtada Al-Sadr, the Shia Revival, and the Struggle for Iraq

More articles by:

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

August 21, 2018
Anthony DiMaggio
Fascist Nation: The “Alt-Right” Menace Persists, Despite Setbacks
Chris Floyd
Dial “N” for Mayhem: Wording Our Way to a New Level of Hell
Creston Davis
The Education Impasse in the USA
Jonathan Cook
In Detaining Peter Beinart, Israel Has Declared it No Longer Represents Millions of Jews Overseas
Kshama Sawant
UPS Teamsters, We Have Your Back in this Fight
Kenneth Culton
Trump Supporters: the Joyous Cult Bound by Shared Story and Ritual
Andy Thayer
Why the Chicago ‘68 Convention Matters Today
Simone Chun
Sea of Tears: The Tragedy of Families Split by the Korean War
William Blum
The Russians Did It (cont.)
Manuel E. Yepe
How Capitalism Erodes Mental Health
Doug Noble
“Abolish ICE”? Then Why Not Abolish All US Militarism?
Thomas Mountain
Djibouti Faces Dark Days to Come; Eritrean Ports, Pipeline Threaten Ethiopian Trade Lifeline
Binoy Kampmark
Finding Fault and Faulty Infrastructure: Genoa’s Morandi Bridge Disaster
Kary Love
“Suffer Not the Little Children….”
Thomas Knapp
Omarosa Manigault Newman, Public Servant
August 20, 2018
Carl Boggs
The Road to Disaster?
James Munson
“Not With a Bomb, But a Whimper” … Then More Bombs.
Jonathan Cook
Corbyn’s Labour Party is Being Made to Fail –By Design
Robert Fisk
A US Trade War With Turkey Over a Pastor? Don’t Believe It
Howard Lisnoff
The Mass Media’s Outrage at Trump: Why the Surprise?
Faisal Khan
A British Muslim’s Perspective on the Burkha Debate
Andrew Kahn
Inhumanity Above the Clouds
Dan Glazebrook
Trump’s New Financial War on the Global South
George Wuerthner
Why the Gallatin Range Deserves Protection
Ted Rall
Is Trump a Brand-New Weird Existential Threat? No.
Sheldon Richman
For the Love of Reason
Susie Day
Why Pundits Scare Me
Dean Baker
Does France’s Economy Need to Be Renewed?
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Mighty Voice for Peace Has Gone Silent: Uri Avnery, 1923-2018
Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail