From the July-August 2017 issue of News & Letters
Donald Trump’s Middle East trip solidified U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia’s new crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. Salman, architect of the brutal Saudi war in Yemen, also despises Qatar over its support of the Muslim Brotherhood.
But Saudi Arabia’s ensuing threats to Qatar seem to make little sense. Qatar is, per capita, the world’s wealthiest country. (Though 88% of its 2.6 million population are exploited, non-citizen workers.) It has U.S. ally Turkey’s support and is home to the largest U.S. military base in the region.
Qatar isn’t Yemen, and the Saudis won’t attack it. Qatar will not accept the Saudi demands.
The entire affair distracts from maneuvers in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and Iran believe they have defeated mass uprisings that challenged them from below—now they are in the process of sorting out their relationships to each other and to U.S. imperialism, prodded by nihilist Trump and his ideologue Stephen Bannon.