Saudi Arabia, with the bellicose support of President Trump, has launched a diplomatic and partial economic offensive against the ridiculously small state of Qatar and is dragging its allies, the United Arab Emirates in particular, into a potential major headache.
You see the de facto capital of the Emirates is Abu Dhabi which uses Qatari natural gas to generate half of its electricity via the Qatar-Abu Dhabi-Oman pipeline. So if Qatar really felt threatened it would pull the plug, and at least for a month or so, challenge the very survival of Abu Dhabi, for how many Emiratis let alone expats would be able to last +40c/105f temperatures without electricity?
The Emirates capital city would have to import liquified natural gas (LNG) which it doesn’t have the infrastructure prepared for, as well as convert its electrical generators to LNG from natural gas, something that could take over a month to get up and running, no matter the $billions the Emirates have to throw at the problem.
So the Saudis picking a fight with their long time villains, the Qatari’s, could crash the Emirates economy and put a serious strain on the so called “coalition of the willing,” that is those still committed to the quagmire in Yemen and its assorted crimes, another source of strain between the two allies.
The Emirates hate the Qatari’s, not without reason, and we know that the Emirates foreign legion has been concocting nasty plans against them in league with a pro-Israel PR hit squad in the USA. Still, the Emirates are dependent on Qatari gas so the shit could really hit the fan if the young newly crowned Saudi prince and de facto commander in chief steps over the line and provokes a Qatari response.
Qatar and Iran, the “snake” that the Saudi’s so infamously wanted the CIA to cut the head off of, share the Pars natural gas field under the Persian Gulf waters, the 3rd largest such in the world whose exploitation of has made Qatar the world’s largest natural gas exporter. If Qatar gets into a serious fight with Iran, which is what the Saudis are demanding, then the Qatari economy could hit the skids for Qatar only exports 600k barrels of oil a day, not nearly enough to sustain its international and domestic commitments.
Reality is the Emirates have much more serious trade relations with Iran than Qatar. Oman on the other hand, has even closer economic and political ties with its ancient fraternal brothers and sisters in the land of the Persians and the Saudi’s aren’t attacking the Omanis, so why the pissing match with Qatar?
Like I said, this animosity is nothing new just the latest flare up, for back in 2014 the Saudis led a break in diplomatic ties that lasted 8 months, and are now led by a much more hotheaded royal in his early thirties and, up until Trump, it seemed that the USA had abandoned the Saudis in favor of the nuclear deal with Iran, taking regime change off the table and leaving the Arabs on their own.
These have been scary times for the Arabian peninsula tribes, leading to, amongst other actions, the Emirates giving the UN Security Council and its sanctions against Eritrea, in other words the USA, the finger by building its new navy base and airfield in Assab, Eritrea.
Qatar and the royal family of Saud, both installed by the British after WW1, have been at each others’ throats for many years now. We know, thanks to WikiLeaks, the Qataris were pushing the Americans to engineer a coup against the Saudis while the house of Saud was trying to restore the grandfather of the present emir, whose father deposed his own father in a palace coup and who was forced to abdicate to his son by the Saudis.
The Saudis can’t militarily attack Qatar, not with the largest US military installation in west Asia and everyone knows it. The so called “economic blockade” of Qatar has failed so far with Turkey stepping in to provide everything Qatar needs.
True, the Al Jazeera satellite television channel has been a finger in the eye of the Saudis and Emirates but AJ’s main viewer base in Africa, west and south Asia, over a billion people, is via the two main satellite channels, Arabsat and Nilesat. These free channels can be accessed by anyone for as little as $40 for a satellite dish and receiver and a television. Arabsat is owned by the Saudis and Nilesat by Egypt. They kicked the Iranian Arabic channel off just like the Europeans kicked off Iran’s PressTV from their satellite systems. So why is the anti-Qatar lot allowing Al Jazeera to continue to spew its attacks on them via the big two satellite channels they own?
Why? It’s a pissing contest, really, and other than pissing and moaning little of anything in the way of real conflict is going on. Maybe this will change in time but it’s hard to see the major powers internationally allowing this to get out of hand. The Saudis eventually will try some face saving “compromise” and Qatar might have to eat some crow, but when all is said and done all of it will amount to little more than a urine stain on the political fabric on the Arabian Peninsula.
Thomas C. Mountain is an independent journalist in Eritrea, living and reporting from here since 2006. See thomascmountain on Facebook or best reach him at thomascmountain at g mail dot com.