Govt led other Arab states including Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Yemen in breaking off diplomatic ties and trade links with Qatar 5 June, accusing it of destabilising region by funding terrorism and cosying up to Iran. Govt and allies 23 June issued Qatar thirteen demands to meet to ease isolation, which FM Jubeir 27 June said were non-negotiable (see Qatar). Tensions with Iran rose after it accused coast guard of shooting and killing Iranian fisherman 16 June near Saudi coast. Riyadh 20 June said it had arrested three Revolutionary Guards in Saudi waters; Tehran denied Saudi claim and urged Saudi Arabia to release detainees and pay compensation for death of fisherman.
From Saudi Arabia's establishment in 1932, its minority Shiite population has been subject to discrimination and sectarian incitement. Beginning in the early 1990s, with then Crown Prince Abdullah's active support, the government took steps to improve inter-sectarian relations.
Saudi Arabia is at a critical stage in both its struggle against terrorism and its on-again, off-again efforts at reform, and Islamism is at the heart of both.
The Saudi regime faces one of the more difficult phases in its history. Fearful of change, accustomed to a system in which it holds enormous power and privileges, the ruling family may consider any serious reform a risk not worth taking.
Whatever Saudi Arabia's current view of the Muslim Brotherhood in other countries, in Yemen they are natural allies against the Houthi-Saleh alliance.
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.]
Doha has become a casualty of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates’ fights with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. But don’t expect a war.
Originally published in The New York Times
Originally published in The Daily Star
Originally published in Chicago Tribune