Military helicopters flying over Doha during Qatar National Day, 2015
Naseem Zeitoon / Reuters

In June 2017, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and instituted an economic and trade embargo that closed Qatar’s only land border and heavily restricted the sea and airspace open to Qatar-bound traffic. This was not the first time that frustration over Qatar’s distinctive foreign policy had led to a crisis. In 2014, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE withdrew their ambassadors from Doha, angered by the country’s post–Arab Spring policies such as its perceived support for the Islamist movements. Although this disagreement was settled nine months later, the Qatari leadership learned a lesson: it could happen again.

The embargo nevertheless caught most regional and international observers off balance. And just one day after the it was announced, U.S. President Donald Trump shocked both Doha and his own secretaries of state and defense by issuing a series of tweets

To read the full article