A Dangerous Moment in U.S. Middle East Relations

This is an extremely crucial and dangerous moment.

If the U.S. follows Trump in siding with Saudi Arabia, we will be effectively supporting ISIS, and potentially creating an ISIS more powerful than any country in the Middle East.

Here is why.

The Saudi interpretation of Islam is the root source of ISIS’s. ISIS might look like Saudi Arabia if had more oil and an alliance with America. Consider what the Sauids already get away with given their oil wealth. Imagine what they could do, if they also had control of Qatar’s natural gas reserve, the single largest in the world…

Yes, yes. The Saudis and Trump say they are blockading Qatar to fight ‘terrorists’, but the real ‘terrorists’ they are fighting are these three things:

1) The democratic aspirations of the region that brought the Arab Spring, which the Saudis and UAE brutally crushed.

– Like ISIS, the Saudis claim democracy is against Islam. In contrast, the list of ‘terrorists’ they are demanding Qatar to hand over, are advocates of democracy (including both “Islamists” like the Muslim Brotherhood, and secularists). Qatar does not push just one line, but believes in open dialogue. That is why they started Al Jazeera – the first free and open news channel in the Arab world – and that is why the first demand of the Saudis is to shut it down.

2) Iran, against whom they have stoked the same kind of anti-Shia sectarian hate that ISIS uses to justify its atrocities, and against whom ISIS recently launched terrorist attacks. Qatar has a significant Shia population that are intermarried with the Sunnis, and they put a high value on coexistence. When the Saudis accuse Qatar of ‘siding with’ Iran and demand them to ‘take a side’, they are demanding that Qatar take the same hard line, anti-Shia stance that the Saudis share with ISIS.

3) Lastly they are fighting their own people, who are suffering under the economic calamity that comes from the mismanagement and corruption typical of unaccountable regimes like the Saudis. That is why they want to control Qatar’s media.

That is also why I worry that they aim to get their hands on Qatar’s petroleum industry. They will then use some of the spoils to placate their large population of unemployed young males.

Imagine the consequences, if the Saudis are allowed to subdue and control Qatar. They would then be in control of the largest reserves of natural gas in the world, in addition to the largest reserves of oil they already have. They would effectively control the Arab world, and there would be no space for alternative information or media within that block. Essentially, the whole Arabian peninsula would become a regional version of what ISIS only aspires to be, in control of the world’s largest natural gas supply as well as its largest oil supply.

Israel would be safe (which is why the Israeli right supports the Saudis), but what about the rest of the world?

We have make this clear to our fellow citizens and put pressure on our elected officials and policymakers to avoid this catastrophic blunder.

Edward Ryan Moad, Ph.D.
Qatar University

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