Big news yesterday: Five Sunni Arab nations (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates) cut their ties with Qatar, a Sunni Arab nation. Is it a big deal? It was a little hard to tell yesterday. The main element in several stories was that the United States has a major military base there and that the embargo and broken relations with Qatar could affect U.S. operations elsewhere in the ME and Africa.
Today Fred Kaplan at Slate reviewed the issues among the 5+1, and also reported what was missing from yesterday's stories (or at least I missed it). Trump was the cause: "tensions between Qatar and the other Arab countries have been simmering
for nearly a decade, Trump—perhaps accidentally—triggered this new
How? "Trump thought he would unify and strengthen the Sunni leaders when he
spoke to them in Saudi Arabia last month..... What Trump clearly did not foresee was that his speech
would also deepen a wedge among the Sunnis—and, possibly, intensify the
conflicts in the region."
Obama kept lines open to all six nations, declining to make the U.S. a party to their many quarrels. Now Trump stepped in and made the U.S. a party. Why? Was it accidental? If not, who pointed Trump in a direction that is likely to create more Middle East Muddle?
UPDATE: A terrorist attack in Tehran has been claimed by ISIS...the WashPost links it to
the Sunni-Shiite, Arab-Persian blow-up represented with the break between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
violence in Tehran added to swelling sense of bedlam and instability
across the Persian Gulf region. In addition to the civil war raging in
Yemen and the ongoing war in Iraq against the Islamic State militant
group, Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations announced this week they were
severing virtually all ties with the government of Qatar because of
what they said was Qatar’s support for terrorist groups.
extraordinary rift between the Saudi-led bloc and Qatar showed the
degree to which Iran’s increasingly muscular role in the region —
including its intervention in Syria’s civil war — has stirred fury among
its Arab rivals. Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies, including Bahrain
and the United Arab Emirates, have expressed growing anger at Qatar’s
relatively cordial relations with Shiite Iran."
Part of the Trump stumble?