Diplomatic Storm in the Gulf in Wake of Trump’s Mideast Visit

Tensions have long simmered between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, though both are monarchies and members of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Saudi Arabia and two allies severed diplomatic ties after Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani was reported to have delivered a speech on 22 May, suggesting support for Iran and doubts that US President Donald Trump would last long in office. Qatar claims news reports of the speech are false, a result of hacking. Author Dilip Hiro explains that the roots of animosity go back years as Saudi Arabia struggles to tolerate Qatar’s soft-power approach in the region: supporting the Arab Spring protests in 2011, funding Al Jazeera television’s investigative journalism, supporting the thousands who lost homes and businesses during the Israeli-Hezbollah War in summer 2006, and refusing to demonize Iran as Saudi Arabia’s rival in the region. US leaders often tempered Saudi impulses in the region, but Hiro warns that may no longer be the case. Rather than pursue nuanced and balanced policy, the US president now sides with the Saudis, and this could trigger more instability and conflicts among Muslims in an already troubled region. – YaleGlobal