Browsing 'Gulf dispute' News

US Air Force/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

In a rebuke to the countries boycotting Qatar, the US has suspended military exercises with its Gulf allies.

According to the Associated Press, US Central Command said the aim is to show that the military wants its allies in the region to work together.

“We are opting out of some military exercises out of respect for the concept of inclusiveness and shared regional interests,” the newswire cited Col. John Thomas, a Centcom spokesman, as saying.

Qatar is home to the largest US air base in the Middle East. President Donald Trump initially supported the blockade against Qatar in June.

But US officials are now working to end the months-long dispute.

Will it work?

GCC nations have not commented on the decision.

But analysts said it could be perceived as a “slap in the face” to the boycotting nations, which include Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.

The Qatar Insider

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Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Andreas Krieg, assistant professor at King’s College in London for defense studies and a former adviser to Qatar’s military said:

“Joint military exercises are essential for the Gulf militaries to build capability.

All Gulf states want to appeal to the U.S. as viable partners in achieving joint strategic interests, so this announcement is really a slap in the face,” he said.

Another analyst told the AP that the US appears to be running out of patience because the dispute is distracting from its war on terrorism.

One theory is that the Pentagon could step up pressure for reconciliation by freezing weapon sales to Gulf nations, as an American lawmaker suggested months ago.

Thoughts?

Mwani

Hamad Port for illustrative purposes only.

After plunging two months in a row, the value of Qatar’s imports jumped sharply in August, according to new government figures.

They stood at QR8.7 billon, an increase of 39.1 percent from July, the Ministry of Development, Planning and Statistics (MDPS) said.

The August figures were still down 7.8 percent from the same time last year.

However, the figures are a notable improvement from the sharp y-o-y drops of up to 35 percent seen in June and July.

Gulf dispute

Those months marked the beginning of a boycott on Qatar by some of its Gulf neighbors, who cut ties with the country over alleged terrorism links.

Qatar has denied these claims.

Al Meera

Turkish chicken

Despite the initial drop-off in imports due to the air, land and sea blockade, the country has forged new trading partners for construction materials and food, including Iran, Turkey and India.

The crisis now continues into its fifth month.

Thoughts?

MBA_AlThani/Twitter

Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in 2016.

The turmoil caused by the Gulf dispute is unwisely bringing Qatar closer to Iran, the nation’s foreign minister has said.

According to Reuters, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told reporters in France:

“They said Qatar was now closer to Iran. By their measures they are pushing Qatar to Iran. They are giving Iran, or any regional force, Qatar like a gift.”

Al Thani added, “Is that their objective, to push one country, a GCC member state toward Iran? This is not a wise objective.”

The minister was in France yesterday to attend a discussion hosted by the French Institute of International Relations.

Stronger economic ties

After an air, space and land blockade of Qatar was imposed by its neighbors in June, the country began seeking new trade routes and partners.

Iran was among the countries that offered its airspace, as well as food and dairy imports.

Blondinrikard Fröberg/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The nation is a longtime rival of Saudi Arabia, but has been on cordial terms with Qatar for years. This in part because they share the enormous underwater South Pars gas field.

However, the countries do not see eye-to-eye on several political matters, including the war in Syria.

Qatar sides with the rebels, while Iran has been supporting embattled President Bashar Al Assad.

Thoughts?