What's at stake for the United States after Qatar hit with diplomatic crisis

Nick Mcbride
June 6, 2017

Qatar is host to the largest US air base in the Middle East at Al Udeid, a staging ground for USA -led strikes on the Islamic State militant group that has seized parts of Syria and Iraq. A statement issued by the Qatar government had read, "The Qatar News Agency website has been hacked by an unknown entity".

Whether the pressure will make Qatar cave is another matter, what this implies is that Saudi Arabia and partner states are not above using this technique to get states to fall in line.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen and the Maldives severed ties with Qatar yesterday over accusations it supported extremism.

"We need to figure out is this a blip in inter-Arab relations or whether this pushes Qatar further into Iran's orbit", said Luke Coffey, a foreign policy expert at the conservative think-tank Heritage Foundation.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said it would be costly and diplomatically hard if the USA made a decision to cut ties with Doha.

As the Arab world's biggest powers cut ties with Qatar on Monday over its alleged support for the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS (Islamic State) and al-Qaeda, the Qatar diplomatic crisis could potentially complicate the worldwide anti-terrorism measures and spread even more terrorism around the world.

The Gulf countries ordered their citizens out of Qatar and gave Qataris overseas 14 days to return home to their peninsular nation, whose only land border is with Saudi Arabia.

"A potential risk to monitor might be that Qatar will view this as being provided with less encouragement to comply with the agreed production quota", said Jameel Ahmad of futures brokerage FXTM. Saudi Arabia and the UAE provided US$309 million of Qatar's US$1.05 billion of food imports in 2015.

The dispute saw Qatari share prices close down 7.58 percent. On its website, the carrier said the suspension of its flights will take effect Tuesday. Analysts are speculating that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are attempting to bring USA thinking in line with their own. Its Qatar campus has about 10 current students from the affected countries, the statement said. "Seaports will continue to be open for trade and airspace will continue to be open for trade, transport and air travel, with the exception of the countries that have closed their borders and airspace".

It added that Yemen supported a decision by a Saudi-led coalition fighting for more than two years to oust the Houthis from the capital Sanaa to remove Qatar from its ranks.

Likewise, Qatar's sprawling al-Udeid military facility, where 11,000 American military personnel are stationed, is the largest USA airbase in the Mideast and provides a major strategic foothold for the U.S.in the region.

The Pentagon said United States military operations are unaffected by the rift.

Yesterday the United States lauded Qatar for its "enduring commitment to regional security".

In Sydney, Tillerson said he didn't believe the diplomatic crisis would affect the war against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

Russian Federation said President Vladimir Putin spoke to Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the dispute, adding both had "called all interested countries to dialogue". "Neighbors are permanent; geography can't be changed", Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on his Twitter account.

Qatar blamed Egypt for coordinating the severance of ties and said the other countries' goal is "the imposition of guardianship over the State". It did not elaborate.

A map of Qatar is seen in this picture illustration on Monday.

The Kuwaiti emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, called the Qatari ruler and urged him to observe restraint and "not to take any measure that could escalate" the situation.

And he cited in particular "the malign Iranian influence and Iranian-related threats which exist on Saudi Arabia's borders on all sides".

He encouraged Qatar and its neighbours to "sit down together".

Separately, beIn Sports, a subsidiary satellite network of Al-Jazeera, went offline in the neighbouring United Arab Emirates, said an official in the UAE which was also among those to cut ties with Qatar. Eight months later, they returned their ambassadors as Qatar forced some Brotherhood members to leave the country and quieted others. And it seemed as if Qatar, which is itself Sunni, was part of the group. However, it remains a key patron of the Islamic Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip. It also buys additional volumes from Qatar under spot deals. "Dialogue [sic] is imperative, especially during blessed Ramadan". "I really do hope they find a solution".

Cornell University declined to comment to The Associated Press.

Other reports by VgToday

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