Allegations about Qatar funding terrorism are nothing new. However, the sudden severing of ties by other Gulf and Middle Eastern states is the most serious consequence of these allegations so far.
What is really strange is who seems to be instigating this move — that beacon of morality and decency, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The terror groups that Qatar is accused of funding — such as Al Qaeda and Islamic State — commit some of the most heinous crimes against humanity that we’ve seen in recent years.
Public executions, murdering of minority groups, invading foreign countries, killing homosexuals and general mass abuses of human rights should obviously be stopped and punished.
However, these same crimes happen every day in the Saudi Kingdom — but we continue to do business with them.
Severing ties with Qatar? Well, yes, it is sure to put some economic and political strains on the tiny peninsular, however it does appear to be extremely hypocritical on the part of Saudi, which is also accused of funding terrorism — after all, Osama bin Laden was from a wealthy Saudi family.
So, is there another motive behind it? I say absolutely.
Saudi Arabia has tried to consolidate its position in the Middle East as the major power for years now, and until recently it had done that quite successfully.
However, it faces a huge threat, Iran. Iran has become increasingly open in the last few years and foreign powers seem keen to do business again, especially with the recent re-election of liberal-minded leader (as much as you can be under the rule of the Ayatollah) Hasan Rouhani. This has resulted in an increasingly influential Iran — and it scares the Saudis.
Iran could be poised to become the pre-eminent power in the region, with a large educated population, Iranian expat communities spread across the world and some impressive home-grown technology.
While I don’t deny Iran has its share of human rights issues, it does remain a much more open country than Saudi Arabia. I personally have been to Iran, and loved it.
The people were very friendly and many understood their crappy leadership and the reputation it has earned them abroad.
I would also like to visit Saudi Arabia, but because I am not a Muslim and have no intention to partake in the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) or work in the oil industry, there is no tourist visa that would allow me into the country.
What is even more troubling about Saudi’s actions are that it seems to have come about after a visit by President Trump, who also does not like Iran.
Implementing these actions against Qatar asserts Saudi power in the region which could be seen as an attempt to remind its neighbours that it is boss and that it is backed by the US.
You will notice that the travel ban implemented by the US did not include Saudi Arabia, but did include Iran.
Maybe now that the Saudis have condemned Qatar there will be a travel ban there too?
Already the Philippine government has temporarily banned overseas workers from travelling to the country.
So, a question I pose is, why does the West continue to support the Saudi Regime when it continues to commit many of the human rights abuses that we also accuse IS and Al Qaeda of undertaking?
Why do we not cut economic ties with the Saudis as these states have now done with Qatar?
Food for thought.