The country of Qatar is currently under pressure from several of its Gulf neighbours to accept a 13 point plan drafted by Saudi Arabia. These demands were made after a hacking attack against the country’s national media website which posted alleged internal government emails claiming to support terrorism in the region. Since that time Saudi Arabia has been claiming that Qatar is supporting terrorist groups in the region, with frankly, no evidence. This fact, however, has not stopped the Saudis from making demands of Doha.
The demands are collectively coming from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, but the Saudis are spearheading the effort.
In actuality, the demands placed upon Doha violate international law. None of the countries involved has any legal basis for making them. They are attempting to force Qatar to comply via the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC). The body has no legal grounds to enforce any punishment against Qatar for not abiding by them. All of this pressure that is being placed upon them is completely illegal. It is clear that this is being pushed by Riyadh to forward their own interests and US interests in the region.
Qatar is a sovereign country and a United Nations member. They have a right under the law to pursue peaceful relations with any country they choose to. This is about their friendly and mutually beneficial relationship with Iran, who has been in opposition to Saudi and US interference in the region. This is true, specifically, with the imperialist invasions of its neighbours.
The accusations by the Saudis of terrorism are terribly hypocritical. There is no evidence that Qatar is involved any such activities. However, Saudi Arabia is a known funder and handler of the Daesh (ISIS) forces. In addition, they are huge open supporters of the al-Nusra Front terrorists (a.k.a. Al-Qaeda in Syria) which are currently assaulting the Syrian government from the west end of the country.
It seems there is a US hand behind all of this hostility. Just recently they made several deals with the Saudi government for military hardware to the tune of several billion dollars. This purchase was absolutely necessary for the health of the military industrial complex. The US has decided that it is now Qatar’s turn to sign a multi-billion weapons agreement. The plan is to gain more profits from Qatari money. The Qataris know that the US is behind this and the Saudis are supporting it to try and force them to sign the military contracts.
Capitalism is known for its constant need to preserve markets and turnover in the production of commodities. Capitalist accumulation requires that the sales of commodities must continue to avoid a possible slump that could stimulate a falling rate of profit. The US economy is highly dependent upon military production. US military exports for 2016 was 9.894 billion dollars. It’s likely that these demands will disappear or be significantly reduced if Qatar concedes and purchases the weapons.
Saudi Arabia has made some noise that they may become militarily involved in Qatar if they don’t accept the 13 demands they have made. It seems very unlikely that the Saudis will resort to military conflict. Already they’ve got their forces locked into a serious conflict in Yemen. To a lesser degree, they are busy in Syria and Iraq as well. The idea of opening an another war front in the middle of the Gulf is not something that the Saudis can afford to do. Any such claim to the contrary by them is almost certainly a bluff.
It’s also very unlikely that Qatar will launch a military campaign against the Saudis. Qatar’s air power alone is quite modest in comparison to Saudi Arabia’s. Qatar is not a large spender when it comes to its military. Qatar’s defence expenditures were a total of $1.913 billion, about 1.5% of the national GDP, as of 2010. By contrast, Saudi Arabia spent $63.7 billion, about 10% of the national GDP, as of 2010. It should be noted that the Saudis are the fourth largest military spenders in the world.
Neither one is willing or able to launch a military attack upon the other. Qatar’s best bet is to try and ride out the sanctions and threats that are being made against them until some kind of relief can be found. Already Iran has pledged food aid them, and Turkey has sent 4,000 tonnes of aid, mostly food.
It should be acknowledged that Saudi Arabia and the US are the villains in this situation. Both of them are pressuring Qatar to carry out their interests in the region. Qatar has every right to pursue peaceful relationships with any country they choose. Both the US and the Saudia’s are violating that right.