The Middle East is embroiled in a new crisis, and it has nothing to do with Israel. Nine Arab nations have cut off all diplomatic and economic ties with the oil-rich emirate of Qatar and are expelling Qatari citizens.
Bahrain has made it a crime, punishable by 5 years in prison and a fine, for any of its citizens to “express sympathy” for Qatar. The United Arab Emirates will put you in prison for 15 years for expressing sympathy for Qatar, “whether it be through the means of social media, or any type of written, visual or verbal form.”
Why? Qatar has been supporting Islamic extremists under the table for years, some of which threaten the regimes of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and these other monarchies and emirates.
But the catalyst was a report quoting the Qatari Emir expressing support for Iran and criticizing Donald Trump’s policy towards Iran. Qatar is supposed to be Sunni Muslim, as are these other Arab countries. Iran is Shi’ite. Those two Islamic sects are bitter enemies, sort of like Catholics and Protestants during the 30 Years War. That a Sunni state would support Iran feels like both heresy and betrayal.
Qatar claims that the Emir said no such thing, that the quote was “fake news” connected to a hack by Russian intelligence. U. S. Intelligence says that this could very well be the case.
At any rate, the uproar over Qatar has turned into a new crisis in the Middle East.
From Katie Hunt, Qatar crisis: What you need to know – CNN.com:
It’s the biggest political crisis to hit the Middle East in years.Qatari nationals are now officially on notice to leave neighboring countries within two weeks after an unprecedented diplomatic freeze of the nation by key allies and neighbors.A total of nine nations have so far moved to indefinitely sever ties with Qatar — a country of nearly 2.3 million people, mostly foreign workers. . . .Gulf allies have repeatedly criticized Qatar for alleged support of the Muslim Brotherhood, a nearly 100-year-old Islamist group considered a terrorist organization by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.The UAE accused Qatar of “funding and hosting” the group in its statement announcing the severance of ties. However, analysts say the rift is also driven by the belief that Qatar is too closely aligned with Iran.The diplomatic crisis came two weeks after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt blocked several Qatari media outlets — including Al Jazeera — over comments allegedly made by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Al Hamad Al Thani.Al Thani reportedly hailed Iran as an “Islamic power” and criticized US President Donald Trump’s policy towards Tehran.Qatar said the website was hacked — and on June 6, US officials told CNN that US investigators believe Russian hackers were behind it.US officials said the goal of the Russians appeared to be creation of a rift among the US and its allies.
Photo of Westbay, Doha, Qatar by LEGRANDEENTERPRISE, CC0, Public Domain via Pixabay