Arab and Muslim World on the brink of a split
The sudden appearance of Al Qaeda terrorist organization’s leader Ayman Al Zawahri, issuing a sermon and mentioning the leader of Muslim Brotherhood Hasan Al Banna, Palestinian Hamas leaders like Iziddin Al Qassam, Abdullah Azzam and other Jihadists, leaves many questions to be answered.
He called to fight secular, Shia, Crusaders, Chinese, Hindu, West and nationalist movements in the Islamic world. The timing of his 6th letter with the developments in the Arabian Peninsula is a clear indication of new trends in the Salafi-Takfiri ideology of One Umma united to fight the infidel enemy. His mentioning the Palestinian Hamas leaders is an attempt to tarnish the Islamic organization and may be an attempt to forge a new alignment to change the course of resistance to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
The escalation of tension in the Arabian Peninsula is a global affairs and a matter of concern for all stakeholders since 65 per cent of global energy comes from this region and it is hosting expats from all over the world including Indians who constitute the largest expat community and any instability will be a humanitarian and economical disaster. It will be difficult to bear its consequences.
Undoubtedly, the visit of President Donald Trump to Saudi Arabia added fuel to the boiling pot among leaders of the region. During his meeting with the heads of GCC states, he clearly named Qatar as a “sponsor of terrorism”. The Emir of Qatar Shaikh Tamim asked President Trump to clarify and gives proof. President Trump raised his finger toward the King of Saudi Arabia and told the Qatari ruler: he told me!
It was clear from the onset of the crisis that the US has taken the side with Riyadh. The US President met with representatives of 55 Islamic countries including 25 heads of state during his Riyadh visit under the banner: Arab Islamic US Summit (AIUS). On top of his agenda was normalization of relations between Israel and the rich Gulf states, forging an anti-Iran bloc (“Sunni Muslim NATO”) and an end to support to Muslim Brotherhood which has strong presence in Egypt, Palestine (Hamas), Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, Libya and many Arab states where Qatar and Turkey played a major role in supporting, funding and arming radical movements responsible for instability and carrying deadly attacks against the establishment in respective countries.
As reliable sources pointed out, the rift between Riyadh and Doha was evident and Trump’s rendezvous gave the Saudi King the ammunition to take the lead against Qatar and political Islam.
Riyadhrallied along with two other GCC member states, UAE and Bahrain, to severe relations with Doha and refusing any kind of compromise till the Emir of Qatar either surrendered to the Saudi dictate or faced the music as an enemy to the interests of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Qataris considered to be close to Iran. In spite of the fact that its economical relations with Tehran are less than other Gulf states like UAE, Oman and Kuwait. The only relation between the two states, in real terms, is sharing of the maritime natural gas fields which is considered the future source of energy and will ends Saudi dominance of the Petrodollar era which has lasted over half a century.
Since Qatar does not have any Shia population, it cannot accuse Iran of sabotaging its stability. Tehran has been accused by Saudi Arabia of interfering in the internal affairs of Bahrain, Saudi and Kuwait and of supporting the Houthis in Yemen. Hence any close ties between Qatar and Iran will not serve the US-Saudi Sunni-led bloc against Iran. Qatar Emir was accused of acting against the interests of the region.
Look who is talking
It was a joke of the century to hear the Saudi and other Gulf states accusing Qatar of supporting terrorism and funding Muslim Brotherhood to destabilize the region. The former US secretary of state Hilary Clinton accused Saudi and Qatar of funding Islamic State and other radical organizations with arms and training. Former US Vice President, Joe Biden, stated that Saudi, UAE, Qatar and Turkey were behind the rise of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
It were these countries, including the US, Israel, France and UK, which were responsible of the corridor of death and destruction in the Arab world which commenced with what was known as the Arab Spring. An armed regime-change policy led to the murder of Muammar Al Qaddafi in Libya that has now turned into the hub of terrorists and is heading for disintegration. In Syria, Qatar supports IS, Al-Nusra Front and Al Qaeda terrorist organization. If Qatar is guilty of supporting terrorism, Saudi Arabia is a partner in this crime against humanity in most of the Arab and Islamic countries where Wahabi-Salafi ideology is spread and financed.
GCC & Camel’s bite
The GCC was formed in Riyadh in May 1981 after the Iranian revolution in 1979, mainly to counter the Iranian Shia influence in the region, accusing Tehran of exporting revolution to other states and destabilizing the region. The council failed to forge a military bloc to protect the region since the custodian of the GCC is US.
After the Second Gulf War and liberation of Kuwait, US secured military pacts with GCC and established its military bases in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Qatar is home to the second largest military US base where more than 11,000 US marines are stationed and most of US operations in Afghanistan and West Asia come from there.
The US-Israel objectives
* Breakup of the resistance bloc (the so-called “Shiite Crescent”), which includes Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon and Hamas (Gaza strip), which are opposed to the US-Israeli plans to reshape the Middle East and create a new New Order in the region post-Sykes-Picot;
* Ending the Israel-Palestine two states concept, and creating an autonomous Gaza region with Egypt administration and an autonomous West Bank region with Jordanian administration;
* To end the Palestinian aspiration for a homeland, expel a large number of Palestinians to Jordan to pave for a future confederation and give more land in the West Bank for the expansion of the Jewish settlements. This objective was stated in the first Zionist Congress in 1897 in Basel, Switzerland.
* Arab countries must normalize relations with Israel.
* Accept Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Jewish Israel.
The Gulf money influence will try to create a new Arab-Islamic movement, leading to more nations joining the plan to isolate Gas-rich Qatar and forcing its Amir to fall in line or get him replaced in a family coup led by Gulf powers. Many experts do not rule out a military action against Qatar by Saudi, UAE and Egypt invasion which will be possible if US takes side with the new coalition.
We are living in a greedy world. The wealthiest country in the world with a population of less than 260,000 people cannot be allowed to remain stable and free in a Gulf stripped of its wealth by the ongoing war in Yemen, its support to radical militants groups in the region and money-sucking strategies of Washington. The hefty cheque paid by Saudi to President Trump for arms and infrastructure projects is a token to accept US protection as Trump described the Gulf as “a cow either we cut its neck or milk it” and the cowboy opted for the latter option.
The fact is that Iran is the main target and the next is Qatar with the sole aim of emptying its overflowing coffers. It has to pay the bill for defying the US dictates, especially when the Emir of Qatar refused US mediation and did not visit Washington. The Emir refused any such move before lifting of sanctions and fearing a military intervention by Saudi and UAE to topple him and keep him in exile.
Dohahas already taken a few steps to ease tensions by asking Hamas leaders sheltered in Doha to leave it, cut support to Muslim Brotherhood, Taliban of Afghanistan and hand over a Saudi dissident to Riyadh.
Al Jazeera, the Qatari royal family-funded channel, the main media vehicle in the Arab world is still adamant although it has calmed down its anti-Saudi rhetoric.
The next war is for the Gas war in the region and three nations hold this invaluable wealth: Russia, Iran and Qatar. It is difficult for US to allow this trio to lead the global economy of the world without pricing it in US dollar as has been the case with oil in what is know as “Petro dollar”. Gas sales in other currencies will sharply hit the global position of the American dollar.
The worse scenario as of now is the break up of a war between rival leaders that will lead to chaos and US military intervention to keep the GCC under its total control. If this happens the US control over the Gulf`s natural resources will be complete. It is the US which calls the shot and it is the sole beneficiary of the current crisis. Protection money will be paid by rich Gulf states to the US to protect them from each other.
Whatever the outcome of this crisis-after-crisis in the Arab world, its people are the main losers. Arab leaders are responsible for the current poor state of affairs. The inter-strife among the Sheikhdoms brings out lots of secrets into the open about who was behind different radical militant groups in the Arab worldm who sabotaged Turkey’s stability and who were behind the failed coup, how the terrorist organizations got funds and arms from the Gulf states and who benefits from all this chaos…
The lack of vision and tribal feuds will destroy the remaining stable Arab states and give the enemies a golden opportunity to destroy and conquer the whole region. For India, it is a time to worry. India must take an active role to ensure the safety and to safeguard the interest of the large Indian community living in the region. India’s energy security is threatened and merely keeping an equal distance from rivals will not serve India’s interest on the long run. New Delhi need to act swiftly.
Finally, the political trends of the crisis take us back a century ago when the Arabs revolted against the Ottoman Empire in 1916 with the help of France and Britain. All we got in return was disintegration, occupation, Judaisation and a Sykes-Picot regime.
Are we witnessing a repeat of that history and redrawing of maps once again? Is it a second Sykes-Picot? It is getting murkier by the day and a split in the Arab and Islamic world is on the card.
The author is a senior Arab journalist and political analyst. His writings may be accessed on www.waielawwad.com