Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Qatar: Trump and the Big Picture

The World Socialist Web Site, "The Saudi offensive against Qatar and the global intensification of geopolitical conflict," sees less of a Trump palm print on the Saudi-led move to crush Qatar than The New York Times, "5 Arab Nations Move to Isolate Qatar, Putting the U.S. in a Bind." The NYT's Anne Barnard and David Kirkpatrick, quoting several deep-state friendly analysts, explain the U.S. role as follows:
The isolation of Qatar was widely being taken as a clear message from Saudi Arabia that in the new order, no softness on Iran or on the Muslim Brotherhood would be tolerated. But even though Saudi anger at the Qataris has brewed for a long time, on several fronts, some analysts believe Mr. Trump’s visit provided a moment to act.
“It is entirely possible that the catalyst to this crisis was the feeling in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi that the U.S. under the Trump administration is aligned with them,” said Emile Hokayem, a Middle East analyst with the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Yezid Sayigh, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, said the new moves reflected a “bullishness” prompted by the Trump administration’s stances — on the confrontation with Iran and on a willingness to look the other way on human rights violations.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are getting “no U.S. pushback” on human rights or on the Yemen intervention, he said, while “Egypt also feels off the hook with Trump, and is using the opportunity to repair ties with the Saudis, reinforce with the Emiratis and be more assertive in Libya.”
But the move carries perils for the other countries as well, Mr. Sayigh warned. “Cutting relations with Qatar suggests a worrying readiness to be assertive and belligerent,” he said, adding that it “may prove to be a case of overreach.”
But the escalating confrontation between Qatar and other Sunni-led Arab states presents a new and unwelcome complication for the United States military, which has made strenuous efforts to forge a broad coalition against the Islamic State.
How, for example, can the American-led air campaign include warplanes from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates if those governments will no longer allow their military representatives to be based at, or even to visit, a major United States command center?
Beyond the military difficulties, several multinational corporations have operations in the feuding nations. A Saudi call for companies to withdraw from Qatar could present international executives with difficult choices about where to do business.
Qatar is hosting the 2022 World Cup, for instance, and is building facilities for the tournament that are part of an ambitious construction boom, including creating branches of major international museums and universities.
WSWS prefers big-picture interpretation of events. A grand barbecue of a land grab is underway as the Sykes-Picot map of the Middle East is redrawn:
The current dispute is of a qualitatively different character, as exemplified by the Saudis’ imposition of an economic blockade that threatens to strangle Qatar’s economy.
Qatar, not without reason, has charged that Saudi Arabia is seeking to subject it to “guardianship,” i.e., to reduce it to the status of a vassal state.
No less significantly, the sudden clash between Qatar and Saudi Arabia points to the explosive geopolitical tensions that run through the region and are ever more enmeshed in the conflicts between the major imperialist and great powers.
The series of predatory wars Washington has waged in the Middle East since 1991 has shattered whole societies, killing millions, rendering millions more refugees, and engulfing ever greater areas in war and destruction. Their cumulative impact has been the effective collapse of the state system French and British imperialism imposed on the region at the end of World War One and the fueling of a new struggle for the redivision of the Middle East.
The developments in Syria reveal most clearly that the repartition of the Middle East has already begun. While nominally a joint struggle against ISIS, the war in Syria has drawn in a host of great and regional powers—including the US, Russia, France, Germany, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel—each pursuing its own strategic interests. For US imperialism, Syria is a key front in its military-strategic offensive against Russia and Iran.
And it is not just Syria, but the entire region that is in flames. Given the Middle East’s economic significance as the world’s most important oil-producing region, and its pivotal geographic position as the hinge between Europe, Asia and Africa, all of the imperialist and great powers are increasingly compelled to intervene to assert their respective interests.
The US views its drive against Iran through the prism of its world strategy. This includes the need to prevent China from leveraging its plans to develop Eurasian economic corridors to forge a strategic partnership with Iran, and the need to prevent European capital from beating out corporate America in capturing Iran’s markets and oil concessions. 
This morning Niqnaq posted a helpful graphic of China's "One Belt, One Road" route:

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