The Gulf crisis and the scramble for military outposts in the Horn of Africa are exacerbating regional tensions that risk triggering a conflict. In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Horn of Africa Project Director Rashid Abdi untangles the complex web of relations that tie the Horn and the Gulf.
Originally published in The New York Times
Amid ongoing Gulf diplomatic crisis, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman 17 Aug reopened air routes to Qatar and land border, closed since 5 June, to allow Qatari pilgrims to travel to Mecca for annual Hajj pilgrimage, and said he would send private jets to transport pilgrims at his own expense. Saudi state carrier 20 Aug claimed Qatar ignored its requests to land in Doha to collect pilgrims; Qatar denied allegation. Govt 24 Aug restored ambassador to Iran. Govt told Chadian diplomats to leave country after Chad accused Qatar of trying to destabilise country and told its diplomats to leave (see Chad).
The questions for Saudi Arabia and the Emirates are: Was this the best way to signal their discontent? Was the decision to isolate Qatar the right one? And, perhaps most importantly ― what is the way out?
While a compromise [between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and its allies] is possible, there currently is a stalemate because both sides are hearing the voices they want to hear [from the U.S.]
By virtue of their relative size (both geographic and financial), Qatar will always be weaker [than Saudi Arabia]. But not weak enough to make finances and business deals the decisive factor in this contretemps.