18 January 2021 12:17 AM

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TARIQ HASAN | 9 JUNE, 2017

Qatar's Isolation Will Only Intensify Conflict In The Middle East

TARIQ HASAN


US President Donald Trump’s claim that the isolation of Qatar would lead to the end of terrorism is at best yet another display of his naiveté. More likely is the possibility that this could be the first move of a sinister plot to ravage and destroy whatever is left of that troubled part of the world.

It is very clear that President Trump, in active cooperation with its client states like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and, of course, Israel, have embarked upon a campaign to intensify the ongoing conflict in war torn states like Syria and Iraq by brazenly adding fuel to the fire to the already simmering differences between Shias and Sunnis in the entire Middle East.

While it is understandable that the Saudi Arabia-UAE axis may have their own reasons to whip up passions against Qatar, it is difficult to understand as to why the US, which has heavy stakes in Qatar and has always used Qatar as a lever to influence Iran, has chosen to fall in line with the narrow objects of the Saudi Arabia-UAE combine.

The world has by now started waking up to this insane approach of the West, which, in the name of fighting Islamic terror, is actually aiding and abetting the Saudi Arabia-Israel axis, which in the words of noted British journalist Robert Fisk, is in fact the “fountainhead of Islamic terrorism”.

It is quite clear that the Saudis are only interested in somehow provoking the US to fight what would actually be a proxy war by the Saudis against the Shiite Iran. Within a matter of days, President Trump, working on behalf of the American arms lobby, has overturned years of peace efforts undertaken by his predecessor President Barrack Obama for securing the genuine peace in the Middle East by bringing the moderate Islamic leadership of Iran into the loop of the peace process.

Robert Fisk has, in a recent despatch, pointed out that Trump’s ravings on Islamic extremism are “preposterous for the simple reason that his own client states in the Middle East, led by Saudi Arabia, with their Salafi-Wahabi ideology, are in fact the driving force behind the present Islamic State fuelled war in Syria and Iraq. If any further evidence of this unholy alliance was needed, it has been provided by the attack of Islamic State sponsored terrorists in Iran. It may be noted that there is not a single record of any Islamic State sponsored strike in the neighbouring Israel.

Anybody, who knows the recent history of the present conflict in the Middle East, will vouch for the fact that this flawed approach of the Western Bloc, began shortly before the World War II, when the Great Britain planted Colonel T. E. Lawrence, also known as Lawrence of Arabia, for fuelling the fault lines of the Shia-Sunni conflict by propping up the more pliable Sunni leaders led by the Sheriff of Mecca against the Ottoman Empire.

The Sheriff of Mecca was comparatively an open-minded monarch but when, after the end of the First World War, his regime was challenged by the radical house of Saud which till then was restricted to a small part of the Arabian Peninsula, the British in their wisdom, switched sides and offered protection to the redoubtable Abdul Aziz who went on to defeat the Sheriff of Mecca and by the late 1920s, established the House of Saud as the lone ruling authority of the entire Arabian Peninsula.

Even at that early stage, the leaders of Britain were aware that the radical brand of Wahabi Islam, propagated by the House of Saud, was regimented authoritarian and insular. But, they chose to look the other way, especially after the discovery of the large scale oil deposits in the Arabian Peninsula. The rest is, of course, history and the world is still paying a heavy price for this unholy alliance between the West and the Saudi Arabia.

The question arises as to why Saudi Arabia wants to cut to size the relatively liberal regime of Qatar. During the past two years Qatar has refused to toe the Saudi line on Iran and, above all the Aljazeera Channel, which operates from the Qatar, has been defiantly exposing some of the most horrible incidents of this senseless war in the Middle East. Even more unacceptable to Saudis is the fact that the Aljazeera Channel along with the growing tribe of Western journalists, have not shied away from exposing the nexus between Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Islamic State. It is this single factor which is simply unpalatable to the present Saudi regime.

There are also some other reasons why Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states are not comfortable with Qatar. There is no doubt that Qatar is soft towards the radical Muslim Brotherhood, which no doubt played an important role in the overthrow of several entrenched regimes during the Arab Spring. The present regime in Egypt, which came into power after overthrowing the short-lived Muslim Brotherhood inspired regime in Egypt, would certainly be delighted to corner the Brotherhood organization towards which the Qatar Government has been soft.

If there is any bargaining with Qatar, then a prime demand of the Gulf states would be the expulsion of all Muslim Brotherhood leaders and also those affiliated with the Hamas, which is a major stumbling bloc in front of Israel in Palestine.

According to reports, what provided to trigger the present standoff, was a fake news which was circulated all over the Gulf in which Emir Tamim Bin Hamad of Qatar was wrongly quoted in a statement in which he had shown his tilt towards Iran at the expense of other Gulf states. The Emir repeatedly issued denials but not picked up by the other Gulf channels and by then the damage had been done. It is not clear who engineered this fake news but it did manage to set the stage of collision path.

The fallout of the ongoing Saudi led campaign to isolate and squeeze the Qatar regime, economically and politically is going to adversely impact normal economic activity in the entire Gulf region. India too will have to pay a heavy price because of economic states in Qatar and Saudi Arabia. It is in India’s interest not just to toe the US-Saudi line in this dispute but should adopt its own strategy for protecting its economic interest in that region. This can be achieved if India tries to genuinely broker peace in that troubled region.

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