Analysis & Opinions - The National Interest

Qatar is at the Center of Today's Arab Tangle

| Nov. 15, 2017

A speedy but proper resolution of the standoff with Qatar is clearly in American interests.

In early November, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s defense forces intercepted a Burkan-2 ballistic missile targeted at Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport. Yemen’s Houthi-controlled defense ministry has taken the credit for the launch—but given the extent of the Iranian sway over the Houthi military, the real responsibility for the attack lies with Tehran. Since the airport is a civilian installation and, as such, under international humanitarian law, cannot be attacked, the Iranian missile strike is also a war crime.

The missile attack against the Saudi capital is a major escalatory move, reflecting both the vigor of Tehran’s ambitions to dominate the Gulf and its current boldness in directly challenging the key American ally in the region. All of this underscores the importance of resisting Iranian regional ambitions, the task that requires strong American leadership and well-coordinated and bold actions by the Saudi-led Arab coalition. With this mind, it is all the more the imperative to unify the Arab coalition, which, in turn, requires the resolution of the ongoing situation with Qatar.

It has now been over three months since Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar and issued thirteen demands to the tiny island state. The key was that Qatar stop assisting the Muslim Brotherhood and other extremist movements in the Arab world, and end its support of Iran. Qatar has yet to respond to the demands, claiming that it is innocent of all charges, and that measures taken by the Saudi-led coalition are harming the fight against ISIS.

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For Academic Citation: Rivkin Jr., David and Nawaf Obaid.“Qatar is at the Center of Today's Arab Tangle.” The National Interest, November 15, 2017.

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