Tag Archives: Qatar

The U.S. Is Losing Influence In The World’s Biggest Oil Region, by Gregory R. Copley

The US is trapped in the Middle East by its own policymakers’ myopia and lack of understanding of the region. From Gregory R. Copley at oilprice.com:

Egyptian President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi’s visit to the White House on April 9, 2019, resulted in one of the worst setbacks for U.S. Middle Eastern policy under the Donald Trump Administration.

What was supposed to be a fence-mending exercise between the two countries essentially ended many of the meaningful strategic aspects of the U.S.-Egyptian relationship, despite the fact that the public appearances between the two presidents appeared to be cordial. There have been significant areas of difference and frustration between Egypt and the US, even since the Trump Administration came to office, but there was at least a concerted effort on both sides to work harmoniously.

The question now is who in the Washington bureaucracy will take the blame for pushing Trump to insist on actions by al-Sisi which any fundamental analysis of the situation points to being infeasible and against Egypt’s view of its own strategic interests.

That is not to say that Egypt wishes to end cordiality and cooperation between Washington and Cairo; it does not. But certain battle lines have been drawn in the greater Middle East, and Cairo and the U.S. are not altogether on the same side. Both sides will need to undertake significant, careful action to put relations back on a positive path before the break becomes calcified.

The failure on this occasion lay at the door of the U.S. for failing to realize that Washington now needs Egypt more than Egypt needs the U.S.

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New Middle East Alliance Shakes World Powers, by Yossef Bodansky

Turkey, Qatar, and Iran are emerging as the leaders of a new Middle Eastern power bloc. From Yossef Bodansky at oilprice.com:

Doha Qatar

A new bloc is emerging in the greater Middle East with the declared objectives of dominating the entire Arab world, confronting and containing the US and its allies; and controlling and benefiting from the entire hydro-carbon economy, from production to transportation.

The leading members of the new bloc are Turkey, Iran, and Qatar; with Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan submitting to the new bloc.

Russian experts call the new bloc “the Middle Eastern Entente”.

The key to the success of the bloc is the emerging correlation of influence of the great powers in the af-termath of the wars in Syria and Iraq. Russia and the People’s Republic of China are ready to compromise with the regional powers in order to secure their vital and global interests, while the US, Saudi Arabia and, to a lesser extent, Israel, are the nemeses of the bloc.

The roots of “the Middle Eastern Entente” are in Doha. Qatar in Summer 2017 initiated a myriad of bilat-eral and trilateral discussions with Iran and Turkey after Saudi Arabia and the GCC allies imposed the siege on Qatar in June of that year. However, it was not until the second half of 2018, with the initial impact of the siege largely ameliorated, that the long-term post-war posture of the greater Middle East became a major priority.

It was then that Doha, Tehran, and Ankara started talking about forming a coherent strategic bloc.

According to Iman Zayat, the Managing Editor of The Arab Weekly, in late November 2018, the three coun-tries struck a deal in Tehran to create a “joint working group to facilitate the transit of goods between the three countries”. This was the beginning of a profound realignment of the three regional powers. “Qatar has irrevocably joined with Ankara and Tehran against its former Arab allies. It has conclusively positioned itself in a regional alliance that pursues geopolitical dominance by driving instability,” Zayat noted.

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US Pressuring Saudis To Heal Qatar Rift, Ease Sanctions, As Riyadh’s Isolation Grows, by Tyler Durden

The US will probably exact some concessions from Saudi Arabia as its price for looking the other way concerning Jamal Khashoggi’s murder and Mohammad bin Salman’s part in it. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

In the latest fallout over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the United States is demanding that Saudi Arabia make nice with Qatar, according to sources quoted in Bloomberg.

Three officials with knowledge of the issue have described to Bloomberg that the US is “raising pressure” on the kingdom to “wind down” its ongoing “political and economic isolation of Qatar” at a moment that Riyadh is potentially facing its own such isolation as international outrage has grown since the October 2nd slaying of Khashoggi inside the Istanbul consulate.

One U.S. official further says the Saudis are being asked to “take steps” to wind down its over three-year long bombing campaign in Yemen, or at least to greatly mitigate the factors causing a massive humanitarian crisis in famine — an ironic and contradictory request given the Pentagon’s own lead role as part of the Saudi coalition.

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Settling The Khashoggi Case Is A Difficult Matter, by Moon of Alabama

The Khashoggi case may never be “settled” to anyone’s satisfaction. From Moon of Alabama at moonofalabama.org:

The negotiation over the Khashoggi case will be extremely difficult. The protagonists are headstrong and dangerous people. The issue could easily escalate.

The Ottoman empire ruled over much of the Arab world. The neo-Ottoman wannabe-Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan would like to regain that historic position for Turkey. His main competition in this are the al-Sauds. They have much more money and are strategically aligned with Israel and the United States, while Turkey under Erdogan is more or less isolated. The religious-political element of the competition is represented on one side by the Muslim Brotherhood, ‘democratic’ Islamists to which Erdogan belongs, and the Wahhabi absolutists on the other side.

There are more tactical aspects to this historic conflict. When the Saudis cut ties with Qatar it was Turkey that sent its military to prevent a Saudi invasion of the tiny but extremely rich country. This gave Erdogan the financial backing he urgently needs. In response to that the Saudis offered several $100 millions to prop up the YPK/PKK proxy force the U.S. uses to occupy north-east Syria. These Kurdish groups fight a guerrilla war within Turkey and are a threat to its unity.

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Trump’s Fake Allies in the Gulf, by Burak Bekdil

Here’s a lesson from Wall Street that applies in spades in the Middle East: you have no friends, only people (and countries) that will help you or hurt you when it is in their interest to do so. From Burak Bekdil at thegatestoneinstitute.org:

  • Ahmed Charai, in an article for The National Interest, has forcefully reminded the world that: “As Qatar faces international pressure to stop harboring senior [Muslim] Brotherhood figures, there are clear indications that it will facilitate their migration to Turkey. So among the urgent challenges for the U.S. allies to address is the question of how to weaken this budding alliance.”
  • Charai has a point. There is a “more-mature-than-emerging” anti-U.S. alliance among U.S.’s presumed Middle East allies
  • What should matter to Washington in this Turkish soap opera is the fact that Turkey is getting support, in its confrontation with the U.S., from “like-minded” countries: Russia, China and Qatar. It is clearly time for Washington to rethink its theoretical but fake alliance with Qatar, a tiny Gulf sheikhdom that is trying to neutralize U.S. efforts to sanction Turkey — another theoretical ally that is more like-minded with Russia than with the West.

In theory, the oil-rich sheikhdom of Qatar is an ally of the United States. The peninsula hosts more than 10,000 U.S. military personnel and approximately 72 F-15 fighter jets at its Al Udeid military base. In this turbulent part of the world, alliances, like enmities, can be treacherous. In March, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives was already looking at four alternatives that could become the military headquarters when the Al Udeid contract with Qatar will expire in 2023. After “closely observing its [Qatar’s] financial and banking system due to fears of support for terrorist organisations and individuals associated with them,” Washington apparently decided it had to rethink Al Udeid and its Qatari “allies.”

Pictured: An F-117 and F-15s prepare to launch from the U.S. Air Force base at Al Udeid, Qatar. (Image source: USAF/Wikimedia Commons)

Enter Turkey. The Qataris, not knowing that their grandchildren would one day be the best strategic allies of their Ottoman colonialists’ grandchildren, fought the Ottomans to gain their independence in 1915, thereby ending the 44-year-long Ottoman rule in the peninsula. Independence had come at last. It lasted for about a year, until 1916, when Qatar became a British protectorate until 1971. Today, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey is Qatar’s best ally. This alliance is structured on common ideology featuring pro-Hamas, pro-Muslim Brotherhood Islamism.

To continue reading: Trump’s Fake Allies in the Gulf

Has Washington Lost the Middle East After Qatar? by F. William Engdahl

Why Qatar is important. From F. William Engdahl at NEO Journal via lewrockwell.com:

There is a hidden thin red thread connecting the recent US Congress’ sanctions against Iran and now the Russian Federation, with the decision of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies to sanction Qatar. That red thread has nothing to do with a fight against terrorism and everything to do with who will control the largest natural gas reserves in the world as well as who will dominate the world market for that gas.

For more or less the past Century, since 1914, the world has been almost continuously at war over control of oil. Gradually with the adoption of clean energy policies in the European Union and most especially in China’s agreeing to significantly cut CO2 emissions by reducing coal generation, itself a political act not a scientific one, as well as advances in natural gas transport technologies, notably in the liquefaction of natural gas or LNG, natural gas has finally become a globally traded market as is oil. With this development, we now are in an era not only of wars for control of major oil reserves around the world. Now we have the dawn of the age of natural gas wars. Fasten your seatbelts, ladies, and gentlemen.

In terms of geopolitical actors, no political power has been more responsible for launching the recent undeclared gas wars than the corrupt Washington cabal that makes policy on behalf of the so-called deep state interests. This began markedly with the Obama Presidency and is continuing with a vengeance under the current Trump-Tillerson dog-n-pony show. Donald Trump’s recent trip to Riyadh and Tel Aviv to nudge along the idea of a Sunni Arab “NATO” to fight “terrorism,” which Washington now defines as Iran, has ignited a new phase in the emerging US global gas wars.

Burning the house to roast the pig

The Trump Administration policy in the Middle East–and there is a clear policy, rest assured–might be compared to that of the ancient Chinese fable about the farmer who burnt down his house in order to roast a pig. In order to control the emerging world energy market around “low-CO2″ natural gas, Washington has targeted not only the world’s largest gas reserve country, Russia. She is now targeting Iran and Qatar. Let’s look more closely at why.

To continue reading: Has Washington Lost the Middle East After Qatar?

The Shocking Trigger Behind Today’s Gulf Scandal: Qatar Paid Al-Qaeda, Iran $1BN In Hostage Deal, by Tyler Durden

Here’s one way to fund terrorists: pay their ransom demands. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

The FT has unveiled what its believes is the key trigger behind the shocking overnight collapse in diplomatic relations between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors. According to the FT, the catalyst that forced the Saudis and their allies to unveil the cut in diplomatic and economic ties, is that Qatar allegedly paid up to $1 billion to Iran and al-Qaeda affiliates “to release members of the Gulf state’s royal family who were kidnapped in Iraq while on a hunting trip, according to people involved in the hostage deal“; the secret deal was allegedly one of the triggers behind Gulf states’ dramatic decision to cut ties with Doha.

The details of the payoff: “around $700m was paid both to Iranian figures and the regional Shia militias they support, according to regional government officials. They added that $200m to $300m went to Islamist groups in Syria, most of that to Tahrir al-Sham, a group with links to al-Qaeda.

A regional Arab official said the total paid to jihadi groups was closer to $300m. “So, if you add that up to the other $700m they paid to Iran and its proxies, that means Qatar actually spent about a billion dollars on this crazy deal,” he said.

* * *

The Iraqi Shia militia commanders in Iraq, all from hardline Iranian-backed groups, said that, to their knowledge, Iran had obtained around $400m after giving them a payment they would not disclose. They agreed to share some details because they were unhappy about their share of the payment.

“They [the Iranians] took the lion’s share,” said a member of one of the Iranian-backed Shia militias in Iraq. “That’s caused some of us to be frustrated, because that was not the deal.”

The “ransom payments are the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said one Gulf observer.

Not to be confused with the Obama administration secretly airlifting crates full of $1.7 billion in cash to Tehran to release five US hostages held by Iran, the FT writes that commanders of militant groups and government officials in the region told the Financial Times that “Doha spent the money in a transaction that secured the release of 26 members of a Qatari hunting party in southern Iraq and about 50 militants captured by jihadis in Syria.”

To continue reading: The Shocking Trigger Behind Today’s Gulf Scandal: Qatar Paid Al-Qaeda, Iran $1BN In Hostage Deal