SpartaReport–Forcing Qatar to expel Hamas through indirect pressure is a pretty significant diplomatic win for Trump. Reports emerged in the Arab press on Sunday that Qatar would expel Hamas officials based in its capital, Doha.
According to Al Mayadeen, a channel considered close to Iran and the Syrian regime, Qatar regretted the decision, but said “external pressure” had been placed on Qatar to reduce its relationship with Hamas.
This pressure has come from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s Riyadh speech, where he urged the country to “drive out” extremists. Khaled Mashaal, the former head of Hamas, has resided in Qatar since 2012. Khaled Mashaal, the former head of Hamas, has resided in Qatar since 2012.
The pressure on Qatar is part of its wider war of words between Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, which accuse Qatar of destabilizing the region through support of Islamists.
FACTS ON QATAR:
- Wealthiest country in world on per capita basis
- Japan, S Korea, India largest trade partners
- Hosts US Central Command base
- Strategic relations with Turkey
- Only land border is with Saudi
- World’s 3rd largest gas reserves
Update: Commenter canopfor and others are reporting that multiple countries are cutting ties with Qatar:
Update: Now these countries are denying Qatar access to their airspace over accusations of support for terrorism:
Update: The impact of this on Qatar will be enormous. Huge changes seem to be coming in the Middle East.
#Qatar is blocked. Only flights out will have to be through Iran, Iraq, Jordan into Mideast. Or Iran, Turkey into EU.
Update: Some background from HuffPo:
The stream of leaks shows the scale of a campaign targeting one of the most important diplomats in the U.S. In a message accompanying the latest dump, the source claimed the emails were meant to expose how moneyed foreigners hijack U.S. foreign policy to their own benefit and Americans’ loss. The emails also provide fresh evidence of Otaiba and others privately disparaging Qatar, a wealthy nation which hosts the largest American military facility in the Middle East.
HuffPost has confirmed the authenticity of six of the email exchanges.
On Feb. 10, 2015, Otaiba emailed Abrams a link to an Atlantic Council post suggesting that Qatar was intervening in Egypt to support the Muslim Brotherhood movement and undermine the country’s government, run by a former general close to the UAE.
And further background to this from Al-Monitor:
The most acrimonious split is in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which held its own private summit with the president. The Qatari emir allegedly told an audience at home just after the summit that the Saudis were placing too much trust in a president in deep political trouble at home. He also criticized the virulent rhetoric castigating Iran at the summit. Emir Shaykh Tamim bin Hamid Al Thani has publicly said the Gulf states need to engage Tehran, not isolate it. He called Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to congratulate him on his re-election. In response, the Saudis and Emiratis blocked Qatar’s Al-Jazeera network. The Qataris said the emir’s remarks had been hacked by unknown sources and misinterpreted, but they provided little evidence to support their claim.
Update: An Associated Press story summarizes most of what has already been noted in the various Twitter comments. The official reason for cutting ties is Qatar’s support for Islamist groups. The AP article notes that Qatar supports the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.