Qatar Hits Back As Saudi, Egypt, UAE Diplomatic Crisis Deepens

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut their ties with Qatar and expelled the Gulf state from the coalition fighting the war in Yemen, accusing it of supporting terrorism.

Qatar Emir Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani waits for the arrival of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ahead of their meeting, at Diwan Palace in Doha, Qatar. (Brendan Smialowski/AP)

Qatar Emir Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani waits for the arrival of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ahead of their meeting, at Diwan Palace in Doha, Qatar. (Brendan Smialowski/AP)

Qatar has slammed the decision of three Gulf states, Egypt and the Maldives to sever ties with it on Monday, saying they were “unjustified” and aimed to put Doha under political “guardianship” as Turkey called for dialogue.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut their ties with Qatar and expelled the Gulf state from the coalition fighting the war in Yemen, accusing it of supporting terrorism. It opens up the worst rift in years among some of the most powerful states in the Arab world.

The Maldives soon followed suit in severing all ties with Qatar, the government said.



“The measures are unjustified and are based on false and baseless claims,” the Qatari foreign ministry said in a statement, referring to the unprecedented step.

“The aim is clear, and it is to impose guardianship on the state. This by itself is a violation of its (Qatar’s) sovereignty as a state,” it added.

To “protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism” Riyadh decided to “sever diplomatic and consular ties with Qatar, and to close all land, sea and aviation” links, a Saudi official cited by the official Saudi Press Agency said.

Riyadh ordered its nationals to leave Qatar within 14 days and barred Qataris from the kingdom.



“(Qatar) embraces multiple terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at disturbing stability in the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS (Islamic State) and al-Qaeda, and promotes the message and schemes of these groups through their media constantly,” SPA said, in an apparent reference to Qatar’s influential state-owned channel Al Jazeera.

The statement accused Qatar of supporting what it described as Iranian-backed militants in Saudi’s restive and largely Shia Muslim-populated eastern region of Qatif and in Bahrain.

 

Turkey ‘saddened by the rift’

The coordinated move dramatically escalates a 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.

The US appeared to attempt to play down the spat. Speaking to reporters in Sydney on Monday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the rift would not affect the fight against Islamist militants and that Washington has encouraged its Gulf allies to resolve their differences.

“I do not expect that this will have any significant impact, if any impact at all, on the unified – the unified – fight against terrorism in the region or globally,” Tillerson told reporters in Sydney after meetings between Australian and US foreign and defense ministers.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he was saddened by the rift, and called for dialogue to resolve the dispute.

“We see the stability in the Gulf region as our own unity and solidarity,” Cavusoglu told a news conference.

“Countries may of course have some issues, but dialogue must continue under every circumstance for problems to be resolved peacefully. We are saddened by the current picture and will give any support for its normalization,” Cavusoglu said.

Libya’s eastern-based government announced it was following its regional allies in cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar, its foreign minister, Mohamed Dayri, said on Monday.

The government, which sits in the eastern city of Bayda, has little authority within Libya. It is appointed by a parliament that also sits in the east and is aligned with powerful military commander Khalifa Haftar. They have spurned a UN-backed, internationally recognized government in the capital, Tripoli.

 

US military base

The measures are more severe than during the previous eight-month rift in 2014, when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE withdrew their ambassadors from Doha, again alleging Qatari support for militant groups. But at that time, travel links were maintained and Qataris were not expelled.

A split between Doha and its closest allies is likely to have repercussions around the Middle East, where Gulf states have used their financial and political power to influence events in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and where there are significant US miltiary interests.

The diplomatic fallout also threatens the international prestige of Qatar, which is set set to host the 2022 World Cup. For years it has presented itself as a mediator and power broker for the region’s many disputes.

The region also plays an important role for the US military in the fight against Islamic State. Bahrain houses the US Navy’s Fifth fleet, which patrols the Middle East and Central Asia, while Qatar is home to the Al Udeid Airbase, from where the United States carries out air strikes against militants in the region.

 

Iran blames Trump’s ‘sword dance’ in Saudi Arabia

The announcements come 10 days after US President Donald Trump visited Riyadh to call on Muslim countries to stand united against Islamists extremists, and singled out Iran as a key source of funding and support for militant groups.

Iran said on Monday that it saw America pulling the strings.

Donald Trump holds a sword and sways with traditional dancers during a welcome ceremony at Murabba Palace, in Riyadh, May 20, 2017. (AP/Evan Vucci)

Donald Trump holds a sword and sways with traditional dancers during a welcome ceremony at Murabba Palace, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 20, 2017. (AP/Evan Vucci)

“What is happening is the preliminary result of the sword dance,” Hamid Aboutalebi, deputy chief of staff of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, tweeted in a reference to Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia.

Trump and other US officials participated in a traditional sword dance during the trip in which he called on Muslim countries to stand united against militant groups.

Qatar has used its media and political strength to support long-repressed groups during the 2011 pro-democracy uprisings in several Arab countries.

have to wonder if Saudis somehow thought they got a green light to isolate Qatar from Trump

Muslim Brotherhood parties allied to Doha are now mostly on the backfoot in the region, especially after a 2013 military takeover in Egypt ousted the elected Islamist president.

The former army chief and now president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, along with the new government’s allies in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, blacklisted the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.

Egypt said on its state news agency that Qatar’s policy “threatens Arab national security and sows the seeds of strife and division within Arab societies according to a deliberate plan aimed at the unity and interests of the Arab nation.”

Oil prices rose after the moves against Qatar, which is the biggest supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and a major seller of condensate – a low-density liquid fuel and refining product derived from natural gas.

 

Economic disturbances

Saudi Arabia has called on international companies to avoid Qatar, raising the prospect that it might try to make foreign firms choose between doing business in Qatar and obtaining access to the much bigger Saudi economy.

Economic disturbances loomed immediately, with the Qatari stock index sinking 7.6 percent in the first hour of trade. Some of the market’s top blue chips were hit hardest, with Qatar National Bank, the country’s largest bank, dropping 5.7 percent.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain announced the suspension of transport ties with Qatar, and gave Qatari visitors and residents two weeks to leave their borders.

Abu Dhabi’s state-owned Etihad Airways said it would suspend all flights to and from Doha from Tuesday morning until further notice.

With an estimated $335bn of assets in its sovereign wealth fund, a trade surplus of $2.7 billion in April alone and extensive port facilities which it can use instead of its land border with Saudi Arabia, which has been closed, Qatar appears likely to be able to avoid a crippling economic crisis.

Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries traditionally account for only about 5 to 10 percent of daily trading on the Qatari stock market, according to exchange data.

But the diplomatic rift could have a serious impact on some business deals and companies in the region, particularly Qatar Airways, which can no longer fly to some of the Middle East’s biggest markets.

Kunal Damle, an institutional broker at SICO Bahrain, said Qatari state funds might step in to support their market later in the day.


© Middle East Eye

 

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The Strange Case of Tulsi Gabbard and other Tales of Terror

by Gordon Duff, VT Sr. Editor  …with New Eastern Outlook, Moscow

Gordon – 1969

[ Editor’s Note: This is another classic dot-connecting piece by Gordon. He has the ability to do material like this due to his photographic memory, with total recall of anything he has ever seen, read or heard. The bedrock of this was his 245 hours of postgraduate credits at Michigan State, where he taught for twelve years.

Over the years, he became known as one of those rare people who can brief someone literally on the spot on deep background on a huge array of subjects. And that list of topics grew as the decades went by.

In fact, those talents are the foundations of what friends VT has in high places, as they have enjoyed many of these on-the-spot briefings that they cannot get anywhere else. These friends have helped us hold the wolves at bay.

And last, this article is number one on NEO now. Enjoy, as it is an excellent readJim W. Dean ]

*

–  First published  …  April 16,  2017 –

History was changed, once again, on this day

In 1968, Democratic Senator Robert Kennedy, an anti-war candidate, was the front-runner in the presidential race. The party had revolted against President Johnson, forcing him to drop out of contention, and America got behind an anti-war candidate who surged ahead in the polls. He was quickly murdered.

Americans had gotten used to this solution being used, after all we had lost his brother John and Martin Luther King. The least well-kept secret at the time was that organized crime along with the oil and defense industries ran Washington and would murder anyone that got in their way.

There are more players to consider but little has changed, no, it has actually gotten much worse. There is a modern day “Robert Kennedy” out there, it’s Tulsi Gabbard, under attack by the jackals in Washington, perhaps not a big enough target, not yet anyway, for them to kill. We must wait and see.

One member of congress, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, stands alone against those crying for war with Syria, Russia and Iran. Only Gabbard, has openly criticized President Trump for attacking Syria without evidence.

Gabbard is a major in the Hawaii National Guard, has served two tours in Iraq and unlike General Michael Flynn, Tulsi Gabbard is a decorated combat veteran and wears the Combat Medical Badge.

Only those who serve in active ground combat can wear this device on their uniform, as with its partner award, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge or the Combat Action Ribbon for Marines and Navy, a device I wear.

Flynn wears 4 bronze star medals for “efficiency” but has no combat experience despite the fact he continually refers to his experience “fighting for his country.” I mention Flynn but there are many others as well. Even the much-decorated Senator John McCain has a total of 14 minutes in the air over enemy territory, before being shot down.

After that, during his incarceration, McCain made 32 anti-American radio broadcasts for the North Vietnamese and helped train air defense units and supplied them with intelligence, per Army intelligence Colonel Earl Hopper Sr. and Marine Sgt. Major John Holland.

It is McCain that has met repeatedly with not only Turkish backed rebels and ISIS leaders as well, including just prior to the most recent sarin attacks. These same McCain backed groups were proven to be responsible for the 2013 Ghouta attack killing 1300, a fact the US has chosen to “spin” out of existence.

Backing McCain is Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Colonel in the South Carolina National Guard, promoted to that rank with no active service over combat pilots who waited for years. Graham, a long suspected homosexual, is alleged, by pilots I have interviewed, to use his rank and position primarily for sexual liaisons with lower ranking airmen.

I mention McCain and Graham because this is the military leadership of congress, these are the experts at war, they choose the weapons, they pick the enemies, these are America’s “great men” of the 20th and 21st century. What is the saying?

“When the sun is low in the sky, even dwarves cast long shadows.”

Joining this class of politician are military leaders of the Vietnam and later era, whose combat service involved helicopter visits to the front with reporters in tow, perhaps waving around a pearl handled revolver and keeping that chin erect like Mussolini. Then it was back to the palace, these “perfumed princes of the Pentagon” as VT’s Colonel David Hackworth called them (a 3-war combat veteran).

Crushing Gabbard is vital for Washington. Gabbard met with Trump, then president elect Trump, on November 21, 2016. Curiously, I had submitted her name to Syria when they asked me for the name of a member of congress that could act as liaison with Trump based on his campaign promises to work closer with Damascus. Call it coincidence.

We chose Gabbard because of her progressive politics but also because we knew Trump would meet with her. Gabbard is also female and quite beautiful by any standard. The world was going to have to learn to work with Trump’s weaknesses, lusting for women is one, betrayal is another but we will get into that later.

Of Americans, I am probably best informed on Syria and am the “go to” guy even for those who are of differing beliefs or politics here. I have a dark cynical nature and decades of intelligence training.

Suffice it to say, the real Syria under Assad is a complex place. Assad is hardly a brutal dictator. He is popular with a majority of Syrians and could well lead a nation as part of a coalition government. He inherited power after his brother was murdered by the Mossad in a “Lady Di” car wreck, what the CIA refers to under the code name “Boston brakes.”

Assad is a political moderate and reformer who never sought public office. He is a trained physician who worked in London, had many Jewish friends there, was rather popular and is married to a former bond salesperson who worked for a Rothschild-controlled bank.

What Assad found in Syria was dictatorship, corruption and inefficiency. What he also found was a nation assailed on all sides, a situation that got only worse as time got on. In fact, no leader has survived this long under this kind of pressure. This could only be possible with massive public support.

But, to be realistic, Syria’s government is in drastic need of reform, though not nearly as bad as Washington. The government in Damascus, to a political analyst, deeply parallels its neighbor Israel as to political makeup and function. Israel deteriorated into one-party rule as Russian immigrants by the hundreds of thousands were brought in and settled in the occupied West Bank, as hostages to guarantee continued control of Israel by Netanyahu’s Likudist extremists, long partnered with the Saudi Royal Family.

The current insane political climate in Washington is exacerbated by the inflow of cash from Saudi, Israeli and Turkish criminal groups, I am calling the Saudi Royals a “criminal group” based on their complicity in the 9/11 attack mind you. Cooperating with them is the war lobby and a strange network of neo-Nazis and evangelical Christians obsessed with hatred of African Americans and women.

President Reagan shaking hands with Donald Trump at a reception for members of the “Friends of Art and Preservation in Embassies” Foundation in the Blue Room, 11/3/1987

Gabbard, in her demands for a real investigation, has gone against all of this. What is frightening is that she alone remembers the depredations of the Bush regime and their attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq based on wild conspiracy theories that “out-crazy” even Trump’s ravings.

In fact, Trump is a moderate compared to Bush 43. Both, on paper at least, look to be well-educated, were born into money and, as events materialized, were shown to be unfit intellectually and emotionally for leadership.

What Gabbard has proven is that foreign influence, combined with Saudi cash and the intelligence agencies of Israel and Turkey who have been “honey-trapping” DC politicians for decades, rule America and control both major political parties.

What she has also proven, a dark message indeed, is that America may well be the “evil empire” that Reagan warned about, and may well have birthed into existence through Iran Contra and endless “deal with the devil” decisions fed by his own lack of qualifications and real leadership. Suffice it to say that until America dispels the myth of Reagan and his blind belligerence, massive failure, massive corruption buried by fake history, America will only know war.

Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War that has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades and consulted with governments challenged by security issues. He’s a senior editor and chairman of the board of Veterans Today, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

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