Friday, June 9, 2017

President Trump calls on Qatar to stop funding terrorism.

President Donald Trump has called on Qatar to stop funding terrorism, taking sides in a major diplomatic row with other Gulf States. NBC. Trump accused Qatar of funding terrorism at a "very high level" during a press conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that though the Emir of Qatar had made some progress and that the Gulf States should ease their blockade, he had a long way to go in expelling terrorists. Trump also said that he hopes that the situation can be resolved swiftly. The Untied States has a large air base in Qatar and though short term missions haven't been effected so far, longer term missions are. 

My Comment:
I haven't covered the Qatar diplomatic row yet. There has just been too much terrorism happening this week. For once though there have been a couple of days with no major terror attacks so I can finally cover something else. 

Officially, the row is based on Qatar's support of terrorism. That is justified because Qatar has been sponsoring terrorism in both Syria and Iraq. Not only has the government itself been caught red handed giving arms and money to terrorists, members of the royal family has as well. Qatar has been funding terrorists for quite some time. 

Is it hypocritical for them to be attacking Qatar for this? Of course! Most of the Gulf States have their fingers in the various terror groups rampaging across Syria and Iraq right now. Saudi Arabia itself is a major offender itself, so it's not really in a position to complain. Indeed, there is evidence that some minor members of the Saudi Royal family provided some limited support to the 9/11 terrorists. 

Our government isn't innocent either. Leaked documents have shown that Hillary Clinton at least knew at the very least that Qatar and the Saudis were funding ISIS. The Obama admin also knew that some of the weapons that they were giving to rebel groups in Syria were ending up in terrorist hands. And often the rebel groups that we did support were little better than the groups like ISIS and al-Nusra they were fighting. Some of the troops we supported were actually working with al-Nusra directly! 

Still, this is a positive move. It seems as though the Gulf States are turning over a new leaf when it comes to terrorism. There looks like there is a genuine reform element in Sunni Islam that is being led by Egyptian president Abd Fattah al-Sisi. Along with the new king of Saudi Arabia, Salman, they have been making moves to reform the religion and reject the violence and evil that have come to dominate the Sunni branch. I support this reform movement and I am happy that Trump is supporting it. I hope that they are able to purge the elements in their own countries that support terrorism, but if they must start with Qatar first, I support it. 

Of course, rejection of terrorism isn't the only reason Qatar got isolated. Many people have cited news reports that hackers aired on Qatari media that showed the government praising Iran. Iran and the Gulf States are in a cold war, complete with a proxy war in Yemen. It all comes down to the differences between Sunni Islam and Shiite and the race to dominate Islam. The Gulf States could not risk any perception that Qatar is falling into the Iranian sphere of influence. 

There is also the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic extremist political organization that has been designated a terrorist organization by the UAE, had on Qatar. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood government fled to Qatar after being replaced by al-Sisi. This sparked a similar diplomatic row a couple of years ago. Qatar eventually caved and expelled the Brotherhood from their country. Turkey granted them asylum and allowed them to enter their country, but many in the region have not forgiven them for the insult. 

Speaking of Turkey, they have been the only major state to back the Qataris in this conflict. It seems pretty clear that their is a rift in Sunni Islam opening up. On one side is the Saudis, Egyptians and all the other states that support this blockade. On the other is the states of Qatar and Turkey. One side wants reform of Islam, the other supports it's more extreme elements. I am glad that for once our government is supporting the reformers... 

How will it end? I am guessing that Qatar will have to back down. Even though they have the support of the Turks and have a large US base in their country that would deter a war, the land blockade has been hell on their economy. They have been isolated by land and can only get supplies via the ocean or by the air. That isn't sustainable, so unless something changes, they will have to back down..  

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