Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Damage Control In Middle East: Qatar Edition

Secretary of State and Russia's Order of Friendship medal awardee Rex "Rexxon" Tillerson has the routine job of cleaning up after his incompetent and narcissistic boss, Donald "Rump" Trump, on the international stage. For instance, after Rump's performance review love fest at the G-20 summit with his partner, Russian thug and kleptocrat Vladimir "Vlad the Invader" Putin, Rexxon had to fly to Ukraine to reassure them that a Putin-pleasing Rump hadn't sold them down the Dnieper. Now, Rexxon's in Qatar to try to smooth over the dust up between that nation and several of its Arab neighbors including Saudi Arabia, where Rump was treated like a royal himself by the Saudi rulers in May. After being stroked by them, Rump clumsily took the Saudi side before realizing that Qatar hosts the largest U.S. military installation in the Middle East, the Udeid Air Base. Rexxon can only hope that Rump will stay off Twitter during these negotiations, having been burned before.

The Saudis claim that Qatar's relationship with Shia Iran is too friendly, and they want the major legitimate media outlet for the Arab world, Qatar-based al Jazeera, shut down, presumably because al Jazeera doesn't broadcast Saudi / Wahabi propaganda. It also suggests that Qatar finances terrorism, which is ironic given the Saudis' own prominent role in that regard. The memory of the Saudi government whisking bin Laden family members out of the U.S. immediately after the 9-11 attack, with the cooperation of the Bush Administration, still angers many.

Whether Rexxon can work out a deal with the feuding countries, in collaboration with the UK and Kuwait, remains to be seen. However, the fuel that Rump poured on the fire with his obsequious attitude toward the Saudi royals carries real consequences for stability in the region and the age-old conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

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