The conflict between the emirate of Qatar and its neighbors, primarily Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, reached the boiling point. Seven Arab countries broke off diplomatic relations with one of the richest and most influential states of the world, accusing him of supporting IG *, Al-Qaeda and other terrorists. Oil prices could not but react to the Arabian quarrel. What else could a new crisis threaten?
The decision of several states to break off diplomatic relations with Qatar is likely to not affect the agreement on the reduction of oil production of the countries that are not part of OPEC. This was stated by the permanent representative of Russia to the international organizations in Vienna, Vladimir Voronkov.
Be that as it may, the diplomatic conflict that erupted on Monday in the Arab world has already led to an increase in oil prices. The Russian Energy Ministry, according to sources, will discuss the situation with Qatar on the OPEC monitoring committee.
On Monday, Saudi Arabia announced the breaking of diplomatic relations with Qatar. Six countries have already joined the decision of the Saudis - Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, Libya and the Maldives.
It's not just about diplomatic measures. Sea and air communications with Qatar are suspended (support for the blockade, in particular, EgyptAir and Emirates announced). Saudi Arabia, in addition, ceased ground communication. The authorities of these countries also forbade their citizens to visit Qatar and closed the entrance for the residents of Qatar. The Saudi government revoked the license of the Qatari television channel Al-Jazeera for broadcasting on its territory.
The Emirate of Qatar was declared guilty of supporting terrorism, destabilizing the situation and threatening the security of the region.
In particular, Egypt criticized the authorities for refusing to expel the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. The interim government of Libya accused Qatar of supplying weapons to the Libyan branch of the same "Muslim Brotherhood" and other Islamist armed groups from 2012. Qatar "is a threat to the national security of the Arab world," the Libyan authorities said.
Yemen accused Qatar of supporting Shiite Husit rebels. In addition, the emirate was removed from participation in a military operation in Yemen (led by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia). The coalition command accused Qatar of supporting the terrorist organizations "Islamic State *" and "Al Qaeda."
Qatar responded by announcing that it considers the decisions of Saudi Arabia and other countries on the breaking of diplomatic ties unjustified and based on unfounded accusations.
Qatar, suddenly turned out to be an "outcast" for its neighbors - one of the richest countries in the world. This absolute monarchy periodically leads in the IMF's GDP per capita rating. A small emirate on the shore of the Persian Gulf is the third largest country in the world in terms of natural gas reserves. The reserves of Qatar oil are relatively small (21 place in the world for exports), but the country is at a key point in the way of transportation of Arabian and Iranian oil through the Persian Gulf.
In Qatar is the base of the US Air Force Al-Adid - here from Saudi Arabia was transferred to the American center for the preparation of air operations in the Middle East.
Not satisfied with economic influence alone, Qatar has its own political line, including influencing the "sponsored" armed groups in the warring Syria. An important instrument of Qatar's "soft power" is Al-Jazeera, already mentioned, one of the most influential media in the Arab world with an audience of 60 million people. It is in Qatar that the world football championship 2022 should pass.
But "recently Qatar is experiencing economic difficulties associated with the fall in energy prices, since the price of gas is seriously linked to the price of oil," said Dmitry Abzalov, president of the Center for Strategic Communications, in a comment to the newspaper. He noted that many social programs due to this began to decline. Russia is also connected with Qatar, the dynamics of trade turnover between the countries is one of the highest, and there are possible risks associated with Russian projects, into which Qatar invests, the interlocutor said.
External reaction: US worried, Iran is watching
The demarche of the closest US ally - Saudi Arabia - has caused concern in Washington. "We ... call on the parties to sit down at the negotiating table and eliminate these differences," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called. The head of the State Department offered American assistance in resolving the situation.
The country, which the Saudis consider the main opponent, Iran, has taken a wait-and-see attitude. The severance of diplomatic relations with Qatar by a number of Arab states only destabilizes the situation in the region, Deputy Head of the Iranian Presidential Administration Hamid Abutalebi said on Monday.
Recall that at the summit of the Persian Gulf countries and the United States in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, all participants led by the US condemned Iran's policy. However, later the Qatari news agency published a statement by the authorities of the emirate on the need to improve relations with Tehran. The authorities of Qatar tried to explain that the site was hacked, but Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain did not believe it.
Not so long ago, the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, said his country should have good relations with all states, including Iran, the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Central Asia Semyon Bagdasarov noted in a comment to the newspaper VZGLYAD. Qatar maintained relations with Iran, against which Saudi Arabia always opposed, said in his turn the chief researcher of the Center for Arab Studies of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Vladimir Isayev.
On the territory of Qatar and Iran is a giant gas field South Pars in the Persian Gulf. And for the authorities of Qatar "it is very ridiculous and ridiculous to follow the US views on Iran," Peter Slaglett, a professor at the Institute of the Middle East at the National University of Singapore, said in a CNBC commentary.
The Emir of Qatar also stated that Hezbollah would like to be viewed not as a terrorist organization, but as one of the forces of resistance. Such a compliment to the pro-Iranian Shiite group fighting in Syria on the side of Bashar Assad could hardly have pleased the Saudis. At the same time the Qatari leader stated that it would be nice to establish relations with all countries, including Israel. It was in Qatar that the trade mission of Israel was opened, Isayev added.
"This caused a storm of indignation in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE," Bagdasarov said.
Qatar has always been enfant terrible ("terrible child") in the Gulf Cooperation Council. And he never forgave him, emphasizes Vladimir Isaev. The "last straw" was the creation by Qatar of a network of so-called opposition in Syria, in contrast to Saudi Arabia. "All this led to the fact that the relationship was broken. This was going on for a long time, "the expert said.
"It will be very difficult to work for the Gulf Cooperation Council, because one of the important members, Qatar, was isolated," Isayev said. In addition, Qatar will actively arm the part of the opposition it considers necessary: "Ahrar ash Sham" and others, while Saudi Arabia finances "Jebhat an Nusra" and so on.
In addition, each of these parties will now affect Egypt. While Saudi Arabia has drawn it, but on how Egypt behaves further, much will depend in this region, Isayev said. At the same time, the US is unlikely to have an impact on the conflict, since they are tied to Saudi Arabia, not Qatar, "the expert concluded.
Confrontation between Qatar and its neighbors - "this is a serious risk factor for the countries of the Persian Gulf, which produce oil," - said in a comment to the newspaper VZGLYAD President of the Center for Strategic Communications Dmitry Abzalov
Another old problem is connected with the chairman of the World Union of Muslim Theologians Yusuf al-Qardawi, who called for the overthrow of power in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Semyon Bagdasarov said. The Egyptian Kardawi, who is considered the mentor of the Muslim Brotherhood, is widely known for his broadcast of Sharia and Life on Al-Jazeera. Because of Qardawi, Qatar already had problems with Saudi Arabia, which even threatened to blockade Qatar.
"Qatar is not the first time to reach the red line, and earlier some countries of the Persian Gulf have already torn or frozen diplomatic relations with him," said Dmitry Abzalov. In particular, this is how the Saudis acted because of the problem with Cardawi. "But the Americans then razrulili. I think, and now they will be destroyed, not in their interests, so that there are problems among their allies, "Semyon Bagdasarov believes.
The pressure on Qatar is "certainly an attempt to make him" take on the mind ", instead of supporting Iran or the Muslim Brotherhood," Professor Peter Slaglett, a professor at the Institute of the Middle East at the National University of Singapore, said in a CNBC commentary.
He noted that it is also important for the United States to exert pressure on countries supporting Iran, and they can use Saudi Arabia and other players for this. At the same time, Slaglett believes, the potential for tension to escalate the conflict is unlikely. "I do not think that it can reach a bitter enmity," the expert said. He recalled that "Qatar uses its soft power status as an ally in the United States, on the territory of which the American largest military base is stationed."
All countries involved in the conflict are "oriented to the United States," Bagdasarov, in turn, notes. Yes, some of the countries are trying to maneuver, even in matters of military-technical cooperation, for example, they are buying weapons from Russia, although the Americans are against, the interlocutor added. "But in general, the strategic direction is toward Americans," the expert concluded.