By Haider Abbas
There seem to be more and more trouble brewing in the Middle-East, apart from the spread of COVID-19 pandemic , as the latest bombshell to come is from Qatar defense minister Khalid Al Attiyah who has claimed that Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) with UAE and Bahrain, the last two have just embraced Israel to start with their full-diplomatic relations on August 14, 2020 and September 10, 2020, after Beirut blasts of August 4, 2020, were planning to ‘occupy’ Qatar in a two-phased plan! According to a report published in Middle East Eye .
‘There was a premeditated intention for an invasion, not just a siege. This plan was set into two phases, imposing the siege with the aim of creating an overall state of panic, which would have a direct impact on the Qatari street, then executing a military invasion,” the minister said. They wanted to implement the siege phase fully then to invade, things were clear to us all the intelligence we had and all the available evidence undoubtedly confirmed the theory of an existing plan. Since 2017, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE have imposed a blockade on Qatar. The Saudi-led coalition said it launched the blockade against Doha in a bid to stem Qatar’s alleged support of terrorism in the region – a charge that Qatar has denied. The designs hadn’t been new as in 2017 former US defense secretary of state Rex Tillerson is said to have prevented Qatar invasion by KSA forces is support with military aid from UAE reported Al Jazeera .
Qatar had already been reeling under economic blockade by KSA, since 2017, with its business, air-traffic, economy, food and supplies compromised, which was a ploy to trigger massive public unrest against its royal-family, and then later to pounce militarily on it, was the KSA double-edged plan, but all that could not happen. KSA standard alibi was that Qatar is friend with Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood, according to Times of Israel and therefore ought to change its policies, or else stringent measures were coming, which was to annex Qatar and who knows, as Arab states were soon to open-up-gates for Israel, an Israeli military base in UAE and a KSA-UAE-Bahrain-Israel invasion of Qatar was to be the understood fait accompli! But, be sure that the plan hasn’t been shelved.
Qatar is battling the KSA embargo and now all imports from Turkey have also been banned by KSA, as reported by English.Alaraby.Co,UK and ironically both are under the wrath of KSA, but Turkey, which is raring to reclaim its Ottoman Caliphate, after about 100 years, considers Qatar to be its original vicegerent, since the Ottoman empire/Caliphate was abrogated by the Britishers after the first-world-war, and quite understandably, when Turkey Lira was in a downslide it was Qatar which came to rescue with 15 billion USD amidst the US standoff as was reported by CNBC on August 15, 2018 and after the outbreak of COVID-19 Qatar has again bailed-out Turkey with 15 billion USD more investments, reported Bloomberg . Qatar has very strong relations with Iran, Russia and with US as well. One of the biggest US military base is in Al Udeid, Qatar which served as a launch pad for US drones and bombers to hit in Afghanistan, but slowly Qatar started to change-its-policies and provided for venue for the Afghan-Taliban and US & Afghanistan government for the dialogues in Doha, which ultimately laid way for US to finally move out of Afghanistan after its 19 years disastrous war. Qatar’s news channel Al Jazeera just cannot be credited less, for its role, has been that of a fulcrum to iron-out-things between the contestants in Afghanistan. No wonder, Qatar is also an ardent votary of its reclaim to its parent Ottoman empire, which may be the prime reason, that compelled KSA, UAE and Bahrain to make a final bid over Qatar, as all the Arab states were cut out of the Turkish Ottoman empire along with Israel which was a part of Turkish Palestine.
With the fast pace changing world scenario, any KSA move (with an understood Israel support), which has now been blown, would invite Russian interference in Qatar in alignment with Iran & China as China and KSA relations have also been dipped. US has also now officially supported India over its conflict with China on the question of Arunachal Pradesh, which has made Israel and KSA also aligned with India, while China is now trying to engage more effectively with Turkey and Qatar and seek to import its oil and gas from Qatar. KSA has slid to third position in terms of its oil imports to China which has very hardly stuck KSA economy. China has now decided to likely include Qatar in its Belt and Road Initiative, came the report from The Penninsula Qatar .
Qatar did get its its biggest impetus when it got the status to host the football FIFA world-cup-2022, which KSA wanted to be stripped, reported Times of Israel and wanted England or US to host it instead, but now KSA’s own economy is in doldrums and its ‘Vision 2030’ is far to be seen as a success, but instead Qatar has smartly launched many lucrative steps, like its easiest Visa rules which is available in exchange of a few dollars, and its airlines has become the number one airlines in the world, informed WorldAirlineAwards.com for the fifth year in a row. Qatar also knows it very soon that oil is also to exhaust and hence has switched to organising gala events like World Cup to bolster its tourism industry. The news, of KSA invasion, might have to an extent stopped KSA steps, but for sure KSA annexation-plan of Qatar and Israel annexation-plan of West Bank in Palestine stems from the same expansionist agenda and will therefore remain on table!
The writer is a former State Information Commissioner. He is a media analyst and writes on international politics.