Qatar vs GCC: The Sign of Times
An overview of the fake news fiasco
Washington Post earlier this week
, dropped a bomb in the already incensed Middle East. A report in the esteemed daily claims to have uncovered a latent plot by the United Arab Emirates on hacking the Qatar News Agency’s network and planting fake news.
In the 'faked’ report, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani had been accused of hailing Iran as an 'Islamic power' and confirming acrimony between Doha and the Washington’s relations. Qatar News Agency had cried foul on the website being hacked by unknown entities, intent on maligning His highness. As the story unfurled, UAE representative Anwar Garghash vehemently denied Emirates involvement in the alleged breach of security.
The blame game ensues as the French goverment tries to arbitrate between the GCC counterparts.
The ban came on the heels of the fiasco, isolating Doha. While the middle East is a treacherous alley to navigate, the Arab Gulf in the past had proved to be the only united front amidst civil war laden Syria, Israel, Palestine and Lebanon. As the French mediate, Trump’s recent visit to Riyadh has been hailed promising by Saudi Arabia. Saudi and Emirates feel emboldened by Trump’s backing of their cause and his anti “radical islam” policy.
What really strikes is the timing of this revelation. While USA in the past have insinuated it’s discomfort with Iran’s expanding power base with terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda, Doha has maintained a relatively weaker stance. Qatar harbours one of the major US commanding bases, while it maintains cordial relations with Iran. In Yemen, it has continued it’s rally against the Iran backed Houthi rebels, while condones the insurgents fighting Tehran’s ally, Syrian president Bashar Al Assad.
Qatar’s policy is a study in contradictions. It’s role as the mediator of the Middle East has now become dysfunct. Iran hails the move as US strategy targetting the sovereignty of the gulf nations ; while it’s still unclear whether the Emirates, spearheaded by Riyadh had any role to play in the the fake-news fiasco, as the Pan Arab , Qatar based news agency Al-Jazeera claims.
The Arab Spring revolts of 2011 were a sign of times of change. The Qatar ban saga, heralds the times of unrest in a already precarious and unstable political miasma.
While many thought, Qatar would become the go-to-guy in Trump administration’s decisive Middle east agenda, owing to NSA Lt General Flynn’s dealing with it in the past. The ban has uprooted the very foundation of a strengthening GCC. Qatar faces a shift in power, and continues to remind the US of it’s unflinching loyalty in the past. The fake news saga is a telltale of an open Pandora’s box in the Gulf polity.