Following the release of a statement by Qatari emir Sheikh Hamad bin al-Thani, supposedly insinuating a support for terror and “Iranian-backed terrorists groups” (1) across the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and 5 other gulf states have severed ties with Qatar. Officials have been given 48 hours to leave, with Qatari nationals given 14 days to leave the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Following this, Emirates and Etihad airlines, in addition to others, have suspended flights to and from Doha. The reasons behind this ex-communications of sorts is the accusation that Qatar run the risk of “destabilising” (2) the region.
Approximately 40% of food imports for Qatar are from Saudi Arabia, leaving Qatar incredibly vulnerable and essentially, stranded. It seems almost too coincidental that this break comes about following Donald Trump’s trip to Riyadh last month, with many calling this move a bold risk and political statement, resulting from the US strengthening its alliance with Saudi Arabia.
Ultimately, one cannot ignore the ongoing conflict between the Shi’ite and Sunni muslims, predominately between Saudi Arabia and Iran. It was only in 2015 that, of the 769 pilgrims, over 400 (3) Iranians were killed in a stampede in Mina, during the pilgrimage of Hajj – matters were exacerbated following Saudi’s intentional, initial belittling of the accurate number of casualties. A crisis of this scale only fuelled the fire of conflict of power between Iran and Saudi Arabia, fundamentally as a result of both following two different branches of Islam.
Severing ties with Qatar following a supposedly “hacked” (4) statement by the Qatari emir is a dramatic move, resulting in isolating the gulf country. On twitter, reports are already emerging of stores in Doha suffering from empty shelves and a progressively worsening rise in food/water shortages across stores. All of this extensive action being based on an alleged conspiring with Iran and supporting extremism.
Muslim countries are essentially expected to stand united against extremism: conflicts such as this create vacuums for terrorist organisations to infiltrate, going against President Trump’s very reason for visiting Saudi Arabia. Innocent civilians will be stranded in the Middle East, utterly helpless in the face of this ex-communication. It appears there is much more behind Saudi Arabia’s decision to break off alliances with Qatar than the media are aware of. The collateral damage will be extensive following this, but, to world leaders it’s more of a matter of political alliances than humanity and the well-being of mankind.