In Turkey last night there was a demonstration in Istanbul in solidarity with Qatar. The Turkish parliament voted to hasten deployment of thousands of its troops to the emirate. Meanwhile, Iraqi forces have moved to the Saudi border. Iran has pledged to supply Qatar with food and water, while Qatar Airlines flights have diverted their routes through Iranian and Turkish air-space.
The Saudi-Emirati drive against Qatar is not new and nor should it come as a surprise. Nor should the Turkish push to protect its ally - both patrons of the Muslim Brotherhood.
At Alternet, I have a report on the attempt to isolate Qatar - driven as much by the Saudi obsession with the legitimacy of its monarchy as any other political consideration. You can read my report here.
'We are not prepared to enter the Iranian camp,' a retired Qatari diplomat told me. 'But we are being pushed into it.' These are tense times in the Gulf. The contradictions of the Syrian war, which have already threatened Turkey, have now slipped south into the peninsula.
The picture above is from the Istanbul demonstration.
One of the striking features of the tension in the Gulf is the role of the United States. During Trump's visit, he met with Egypt's Sisi and the Saudi King to help establish the center for counter-terrorism. They had their fingers pointed towards Iran. Qatar has now fallen into this narrative as well. Claims that Qatar is the financier of terrorism in Iraq and Syria sound hollow when we consider the evidence that it is not alone in these adventures. Saudi Arabia's own royals have long opened their considerable wallets to the whims of extremists from Afghanistan to Tunisia. These petro-dollars have lubricated the rise of marginal clerics and their followers to a central position in our times.
Trump's active intervention on the side of the Saudis comes at the same time as he disparaged NATO and the Europeans. But the Europeans are not so far from the Trump narrative of world affairs. In the current issue of Frontline, whose cover story is a deft assessment of the IT layoffs in India, I go into the hypocrisy of the European smirk at Trump. I suggest that 'beneath the European claim to being the planet’s champion of human rights lies a singularly ugly truth—that Trump is the id to Europe’s superego, the instinct that drives policy rather than the morality that screens the reality.' You can read the rest of the report here.
The picture above is from the Cambodian artist Visothkakvei. It represents in all particulars my sense of the world order.