A Sunni Civil War in the Persian Gulf

On Monday, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt decided to cut diplomatic relations with their partner in the Gulf Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), Qatar. In addition, Libya, Maldives and Mauritania have joined this boycott, and Jordan and Djibouti have announced that they will reduce their diplomatic representation in Qatar. The first  five countries have decided to deprive Qatar of their airspace, have expelled Qatari citizens and diplomats from their territories, paralyzed trade with Qatar and even expelled Qatar from the Saudi-led coalition who bombs Houthi positions in Yemen. These measures undoubtedly affects Qatar’s economy since 40% of all that enters the country goes through Saudi Arabia. But why have these countries decided to take these actions? After President Trump’s first visit to the Middle East, something became clear: either the United States’ Persian Gulf Arab allies fight terrorism, or their relationship with the United States will not be good.

Faced with the possibility of improving relations with the United States, Saudi Arabia has decided to take the lead in the Sunni world against Iran and against terrorism. Yes, it seems odd that Salafism’s cradle and the host of 130 citizens who have killed approximately 2,000 Americans since 1975, has decided to reject and demonize jihadist groups. Obviously, this move has the goal of calming Saudi investment funds in the United States which amounts approximately $800 billion dollars. However, the Al-Saud family was missing something more in their struggle to sympathize with Trump and stem Iran’s rampant influence in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain. End with a non-trustworthy “ally” called Qatar. After the 1995 arrival of the former Emir, Hamad Al Thani, Qatar began to approach the adversaries of the Saudis and to do the opposite of what the rest of the Gulf countries were doing.

For example, Qatar currently shares a gas field with Iran, and has supported and given refuge to members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egypt. The MB is a terrorist, radical-Islamist organization who reached power in Egypt in 2011. Although they got into power, for the first time ever, through democratic elections, they were deposed in 2013 following a military coup led by Egypt’s current president, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. This coup was driven by 3 of the countries that cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar, but not by Qatar. Also, the Qatari emirate has supported the Islamic-terrorist group, Hamas-who previously was the MB’s branch in Gaza until 1987- giving refuge to several of its political and military leaders. There is even public information showing that Qatar, as several other Persian Gulf countries has done, has funded jihadists since the 1979 Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan until this day. Despite the intervention of the Kuwaiti Emir to mediate this conflict, I see it very difficult for the situation to improve as the confidence with Qatar is nonexistent. And now that Turkey will increase its military presence in Qatar, thus ratifying its good relations with this Persian Gulf emirate, the situation can become even more tense. So we cannot deny that Kuwait is a key element in order to improve this situation due to the good relations that enjoys both with Qatar, the Arab Kingdoms of the Persian Gulf and the United States. Although the Trump administration has preferred to remain neutral on this issue, despite the fact that President Trump initially attacked Qatar, this “Sunni Civil War” seems to have no end.

About the Author
José Lev Gómez is an MA candidate in Security and Intelligence at the University of Buckingham in England and has a degree in Neuroscience with a minor in Israel Studies from the American University in Washington, DC. José has interned at the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico, at the College Republicans National Committee and The David Project in Washington, DC. In addition to his interest in Spanish politics, diplomacy and security issues in the Middle East, José has worked as coordinator of events related to Israel for American University Hillel and as an events assistant for the Center for Israel Studies at the American University. He recently completed a diplomatic internship at the Iraqi Kurdistan Delegation in Washington, DC. In addition to collaborating with this newspaper, José writes for Diario Judío (Mexico) and has written for newspapers such as El Nuevo Día (Puerto Rico), El Vocero de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico), Latino Rebels (United States) and Red Alert Politics (United States). José is the author of two books: "Panorama Internacional: Una mirada a la geopolítica e historia mundial (2016-2017)" and "Puerto Rico: El nocivismo del insularismo y el colonialismo", and he completed his final project in Israel Studies on the "Relations of Israel with Basque and Catalan Nationalism.
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