Don’t Mind the Gulf

Why the U.S. Should Just Stay Out of the Qatar Crisis

People sit on the corniche in Doha, Qatar, June 15, 2017. Naseem Zeitoon / Reuters

For all the high drama, the worsening rift in the Gulf between Qatar and the gang of four—Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates—is more intrigue than a real threat to either regional stability or to American interests. In siding with the Saudis, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump hasn’t helped matters or the United States, since it has now injected itself into the middle of a nasty dispute among its close security partners in the Gulf, which is bound to antagonize one side or the other. Unless the parties want Trump to get involved, in order to close or cover a deal they’ve agreed to, Washington should steer clear of the crisis.

The latest development in this conflict are reports from U.S. intelligence sources that seem to confirm Qatar’s accusations that the UAE orchestrated the entire crisis by hacking into Qatari government websites and planting false and provocative statements attributed to the Qatari Emir, which the Saudis and others then used to begin the pressure campaign against Doha. An organization called Global Leaks made the revelation by hacking into the e-mail account of the UAE Ambassador to Washington and has exposed messages that purport to show the UAE making arrangements to hack the Qatari government.

The gang of four has of course denied all allegations. All parties have instead portrayed themselves as objects of the other sides’ nefarious machinations in an effort to win greater U.S. support for their positions. And Trump, who was clearly enchanted by the royal treatment that the Saudis offered him during his first official visit, initially appeared to buy Riyadh’s line that it cut ties with Qatar because the country was supporting terrorism. But in reality, the gang of four, led by the impetuous and imperious new Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, hoped to coerce Qatar into weakening its ties with Iran and Turkey, which are fellow supporters of Islamists throughout the

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