The rift between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates is in the worst state it has been for decades.
Earlier this week, the three Gulf countries and Egypt officially broke off ties with Qatar, claiming the country has been supporting terrorism. Yemen and the Maldives also have broke off relations with the arab country.
Qatari citizens in these areas have only 14 days to leave and citizens in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE have been banned from going to Qatar.
“The UAE accused Qatar of “funding and hosting” the group in its statement announcing the severance of ties,” writes CNN. “It also cited Qatar’s “ongoing policies that rattle the security and sovereignty of the region as well as its manipulation and evasion of its commitments and treaties” as the reason for its actions.”
As if the relationship could get worse between the UAE and Qatar, hackers have released a series of emails from the inbox of the UAE’s ambassador to the U.S., Yousef al-Otaiba revealing the depth of the anti-Qatar campaign.
“Zaid Jilani, one of the authors of The Intercept report, told Al Jazeera the emails support previous allegations “that there is a growing axis between some of the Gulf countries, like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and Israel,” writes Al Jazeera. “David Hearst, the Editor in Chief of Middle East Eye, told Al Jazeera the emails laid bare the “mechanism” behind “a very high stakes campaign that is being launched against Qatar”.
This email leak comes shortly after the Qatar’s official news agency was cyber-attacked, where negative remarks regarding the U.S. foreign policy were “leaked” and attributed to the Emir of Qatar.
“The news comes two weeks after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt blocked several Qatari media outlets — including Al Jazeera — over comments allegedly made by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Al Hamad Al Thani. Al Thani reportedly hailed Iran as an “Islamic power” and criticized US President Donald Trump’s policy towards Tehran,” writes CNN. “The Emir’s alleged comments appeared on Qatar’s official news agency, but Qatar said the website was hacked, the report fabricated by the culprits.”
The leaked emails by the UAE top diplomat also revealed that the UAE and the pro-Israel, neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) were planning to team up against Iran.
“On March 10 of this year, FDD CEO Mark Dubowitz authored an email to both the UAE’s ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al-Otaiba, and FDD Senior Counselor John Hannah — a former deputy national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney — with the subject line “Target list of companies investing in Iran, UAE and Saudi Arabia,” writes The Intercept.
“Dear, Mr. Ambassador,” Dubowitz wrote. “The attached memorandum details companies listed by country which are doing business with Iran and also have business with the UAE and Saudi Arabia. This is a target list for putting these companies to a choice, as we have discussed.”
Cheney complains to Al-Otaiba in another leaked email about Qatar hosting an upcoming meeting and Al-Otaiba responds “How’s this, you move the base then we’ll move the hotel :-)” referring to the U.S. military base.
Saudi Arabia has closed the Al-Jazeera office and said the country will be cutting ties to “protect national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism.” Bahrain’s foreign ministry expressed similar sentiments and said the country would be severing ties “in order to preserve its national security.”
Qatar has rejected the accusations, calling them “unjustified” and “baseless.”
Back in 1981, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar established the Gulf Cooperation Council. After these recent events, Kuwait and Oman are the only gulf countries still with ties to Qatar.
Several U.S. government officials find the move to cut off Qatar unsettling and dangerous for the future of these gulf countries.
“We certainly would encourage the parties to sit down together and address these differences. And if there is any role that we can play in terms of helping them address those, we think it is important that the GCC remain unified,” said Rex Tillerson, U.S. Secretary of State
Author’s note: There is always some sort of rift between these smaller Arab states. It looks like Qatar has been caught and the recent email leak reveals that UAE couldn’t wait to kick Qatar to the curb. This kind of chaos in this area can easily turn into a war.