Monday, June 5, 2017

Upheaval In Gulf As UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain Sever Qatar Ties - Five Reasons Why Israel Should Care,

Upheaval in Gulf as UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain sever Qatar ties

That Gulf states and particularly Gulf Cooperation Council countries are severing diplomatic ties with Qatar is not unprecedented. They withdrew ambassadors in 2014 over accusations Qatar was “destabilizing” the region.

However, the upheaval following Monday’s announcement appears to be on a much wider scale because it involves maritime, air and land borders. Egypt has reportedly even banned Qatar from using its air space.

Although Saudi Arabia will still accept Qatari pilgrims to Mecca, citizens are being asked to pack their bags. In addition, Etihad Airways based in the United Arab Emirates will “suspend flights to and from Qatar.” Qatari citizens will be driving home, it seems, from Saudi Arabia, the only country that shares a land border with the state.

Of greater concern than many of the petty sanctions – such as withdrawing Qatari sponsorship for a sports team – is the suspension of Qatar from taking part in the GCC’s military operations in Yemen. Historically, the Gulf monarchies have operated more or less in concert, realizing they must all hang together against large neighbors such as Iran or risk being destabilized from within by their massive foreign labor forces and other threats. Bahrain, for instance, has a large Shi’ite population and the GCC has worked to support Bahrain’s crackdown on dissidents.

The expulsions of Qataris has been weeks in coming. Since US President Donald Trump gave his Riyadh speech to 50 Muslim countries, calling on them to “drive out” terror, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states have been eyeing Qatar. Columnists at The National in the UAE and Al-Arabiya, were let loose to write articles detailing the way Qatar threatens the region.

Hussein Shobokshi at Al-Arabiya wrote that Qatar “supports Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood.” Hassan Hassan at The National accused it of supporting Islamism, including Hamas, across the region. Trump mentioned Hamas in his speech as well. This isn’t new. Qatar has been lavishing Hamas and Islamists from Tunisia to Egypt, Libya and Syria with cash for half a decade. What is new therefore is that the Gulf states and their ally Egypt have decided to act.

It hurts Hamas

Qatar has supported Hamas over the last decade and hosted former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal for the last five years in Doha. In 2012 Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani visited Gaza and pledged hundreds of millions for the Strip. Qatar therefore provided Hamas not only a home in Doha but financial support and diplomatic succor. The new pressure on Qatar has encouraged it to expel Hamas members and will reduce its support for the group. This may also isolate Turkey’s relations with Hamas.

 It brings Israel closer to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf 

Israel has shared interests with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states in opposing Iran. Because Qatar has supported Hamas, the new crisis encourages those states that oppose Qatar to see Israel as a partner against Hamas and against Iran. This relationship has already been quietly growing in recent years, but the crisis with Qatar allows writers in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf to speak out more firmly against Hamas.

It shows US influence is back in the region 

The background of the current crisis was a feeling that US President Donald Trump’s speech to “drive out” terror gave a blank check to local states to act. Under Barack Obama Israel sometimes felt isolated, especially as the US pursued the Iran deal. Now Israel feels that the Americans are back in the region and will stand by their allies. 

It delegitimizes terror 

The regimes that have broken relations with Qatar pay lip-service to fighting terror and instability. Israel prefers a stable region without terror groups undermining neighboring states. However there is ISIS in Sinai, Hamas in Gaza, Jihadists near the Golan and Hezbollah on the Golan and in Lebanon. In that sense Israel knows that any greater instability can be a threat. So long as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other states work in concert, the winds of stability will blow in Israel’s direction as well.

It bolsters Israel’s hand in general and Israel’s current government in particular 

Israel benefits when it is not the center of attention and certainly when it is not under pressure. This is a boon for the current government because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long spoken about working towards quietly cultivating regional relationships beyond Egypt and Jordan that stretch to the Gulf. He has spoken about the Iranian threat for two decades. If the Arab states are more concerned with Iran and Qatar, than with the Palestinians, that takes pressure off of Israel, at a time when Palestinians are trying to remind the region that they are facing fifty years of living under Israel’s military rule.

Over the years Israel has gone from being seen as the center of the region’s problems, to today when the Palestinian issue is dwarfed by larger conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen Libya and now in the Gulf.  That plays into Netanyahu’s narrative, and takes the wind out of any sails that hoped 50 years since 1967 would have some sort of jarring affect.

One of the first practical steps to defeat radical Islamic terrorism in the region was put into place during President Donald J. Trump’s mid-March visit to the Saudi Kingdom where it was decided that prominent Arab states must work together, along with the U.S., to stop the bitter hatred.
Following the meeting, a number of Arab states have cut ties with the sovereign country of Qatar over the past few weeks creating a new rift in the region. Among the states are Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Libya, and Maldives.
As a result of the severance, Qatar’s stock market index sunk 7.5% percent Monday and is expected to sink even more while the country struggles to find balance.
It’s believed by top intelligence analysts that Qatar’s King Doha, a.k.a. “Father Emir,” supports radical Islamic terrorism and also supports Iran’s agenda which can lead to far worse problems if not addressed.
And if that’s not enough, the Clinton Foundation reportedly received between $1 and $5 million from the Qatar Royal Family during Hillary’s tenure with the State Department.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s connection to Qatar was exposed with the release of the Wikileaks “Podesta emails” in which Hillary Clinton, back on Aug. 2, 2014, sent John Podesta, an adviser to President Barack Obama at the time, an 8-point plan on how to defeat ISIS which consisted of the U.S. funding Kurdish forces to weaken ISIL and other radical Sunni groups.
Withal being said, it’s safe to say that the recent severance of Qatar by prominent Arab states may be a massage to Hillary and Obama that there’s a new president in town and he doesn’t want to conduct business as usual.

Israel's former emissary in Qatar, Eli Avidar, said on Monday that the wealthy Gulf nation was an essential lifeline for Hamas and its terrorist operations. 

"Hamas would not be able to survive in the Gaza Strip or fund its wars with Israel without Qatari funding," he told local radio station 103 FM.

Avidar's remarks came hours after several Arab and Muslim states decided to sever ties with Doha, accusing it of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the Middle East.

The coordinated move dramatically escalates a simmering dispute over Qatar's support of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world's oldest Islamist movement, and adds accusations that Doha even backs the agenda of regional arch-rival Iran. 

 What is happening now is a dramatic world-changing turn of events," said Avidar, who currently serves as the Managing Director of the Israel Diamond Institute.

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