Max Blumenthal of Alternet’s Grayzone Project says President Donald Trump’s backing of the Saudi Arabian campaign against Qatar could be the “pilot program” for a wider regional agenda of U.S.-backed Saudi hegemony



President Donald Trump is taking credit for the rift between Qatar and its Arab neighbors. Saudi Arabia is leading the group that has set off a diplomatic crisis by cutting all ties to the Qatari government. On Twitter, Trump tied that move to his recent trip to Saudi Arabia. He suggested isolating Qatar could mean “the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism.”

The Gulf states say the Qatari government is supporting terrorist groups and meddling in their internal affairs, but few believe that’s the actual cause. Some see a power struggle with Saudi Arabia taking aim at Qatar’s outsized role on the world stage. Then there is Iran, which Qatar has friendly ties to. Now, the Financial Times reports a $1 billion ransom payment to both Iranian and al-Qaeda-linked forces in Syria helped trigger the Gulf states’ decision.

Max Blumenthal: There’s a lot of truth behind it. The rift with Qatar, it’s really a campaign against Qatar led by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, and it was triggered by Trump’s visit to Riyadh last week as part of his tolerance tour where he called for an Arab NATO, which really shows how he views the region, the Middle East, in a sectarian lens, the same way Saudi Arabia does, and demanded Sunni unity against Iran and its allies in the region. So Qatar wasn’t seen as on board, and the Saudis wanted to go after Doha.

Trump has not just claimed credit for what could potentially be a really catastrophic escalation in hostilities within the Persian Gulf, but he has ratified the extremely aggressive posture of Saudi Arabia with this tweet. I don’t know if Trump is reflecting some of the discussions in his National Security Council. It does seems like the Bannon faction of the Trump administration, the supposedly America First faction, and the Kushner faction, the more internationalist, interventionist faction that’s pro-Israel and very favorable to Saudi Arabia, are actually aligned on this issue of hostility to Qatar.

Because for the Bannon faction, they get to push the Muslim Brotherhood ban again, which they’d been wanting, and which is something that the UAE desperately wants. And Saudi Arabia, of course, wants it because the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is one of Qatar’s main proxies, and in the Gaza Strip, their cousins in Hamas. Then the Kushner faction gets the isolation, if not the total elimination, of the one force in the Persian Gulf, Qatar, which hasn’t been on board with the Israeli-Saudi de facto alliance. So this is good for Israel in many ways. Israel’s come out openly along with Trump and supported what Saudi and UAE are doing to Qatar.

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