By Michael Pröbsting, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 10 June 2017, www.thecommunists.net
On 5 June, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt severed all diplomatic ties with Qatar. These countries also closed all land, air, and sea traffic routes to the small peninsula which is home to 2.6 million people. In the days following this move, several other Arab countries – all dependent on Saudi funding – replicated it.
Concurrent with these developments, a cyber attack was launched against the global media outlet Al-Jazeera which is based in Doha, Qatar's capital. Furthermore, the rulers of the UAE have threatened to impose an economic embargo against Qatar, while Bahrain has said "all options" (i.e., including military aggression) are on the table. According to Al-Arabiya, the United Arab Emirates has even banned persons within its borders from publishing expressions of sympathy towards Qatar and has threatened to punish offenders with a jail term of up to 15 years!
However, Qatar has not remained entirely isolated, as Iran and Turkey have already offered support to the besieged country.
The Saudi-led bloc justifies its unprecedented aggression against Qatar with the latter’s alleged support for "terrorism." Coming as it does from a regime that promulgates an extremely reactionary sectarian Wahhabi ideology, this is a rather bizarre accusation, which stems from the residence in Qatar of several exiled bourgeois and petty-bourgeois leaders of Islamist organizations who play a prominent role in resistance to imperialist occupations and dictatorships. In particular, these organizations include: Egypt's al-Ikhwan (the Muslim Brotherhood), an Islamist mass movement which faces rife persecution under the military dictatorship of General al-Sisi; Hamas, the strongest militant Palestinian force which successfully led the resistance in Gaza against three Israeli invasions in the last nine years; and the Afghan Taliban, the leading force fighting a guerrilla struggle against the Western imperialist occupation since 2001.
Furthermore, the Saudi monarchy is worried about Qatar's less confrontational approach towards Iran – Riyad’s arch-enemy.
The Trump Factor
The timing of the current diplomatic war against Qatar is by no means accidental. Rather, it takes place only two weeks after US President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia. The mad egomaniac used the visit to deliver a speech calling the Arab states to join the world’s biggest imperialist power in its struggle "against terrorism," or to put it in the preadolescent language of the racist misogynist US leader: "This is a battle between good and evil." Following more profane goals, Trump also signed a huge arms deal with the Saudi rulers worth more than $US 110 billion.
Trump’s visit was part of the new US administration’s efforts to create a bloc with the most reactionary dictatorships in the Arab world along with the Zionist apartheid state of Israel. The goals of this bloc are: to advance the counterrevolutionary efforts aimed at liquidating the Arab Spring which started in 2011; to kill off once and for good the Palestinian resistance; and to counter the rising influence of Iran (which has the backing of Russian and Chinese imperialism).
Unsurprisingly, Trump immediately welcomed the Saudi aggression against Qatar in one of his notorious tweets: "So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!"
There can be no doubt about the reactionary nature of the Qatari state. It is a parasitic capitalist monarchy with a population that includes only 313,000 Qatari citizens and 2.3 million migrants.
Qatar's Foreign Policy
However, the present crisis is not about the nature of the constitutional regime in any of these countries. Rather, since the 1990s, Qatar has tried to advance a foreign policy independent of Saudi-Arabia – the dominant power on the Arabian Peninsula – in the Persian Gulf region. Qatar created the global media outlet Al-Jazeera which gives more space to anti-imperialist and anti-dictatorial resistance movements than any other global mass media. As a result, Al-Jazeera bureaus and journalists have been repeatedly the target of assassination attempts and imprisonment by the Great Powers and various dictatorships – for example the Al-Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein has been held in an Egyptia prison for more than 170 days. Qatar's offers of residence or political asylum to exiled leaders of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Taliban are other examples of its independent foreign policy.
Qatar can stand behind its independent political positions because it possesses the world's third largest reserves of natural gas and oil reserves, making it the country with the highest per capita income in the world.
Without harboring any illusions about the reactionary nature of the Qatari regime, socialists cannot ignore the fact that the present crisis is a direct result of the anti-Qatari offensive by the arch-reactionary Saudi monarchy. The latter regime has supported General al-Sisi since he took power in Egypt in a bloody military coup in on 3 July 2013. It has also been waging a brutal war in Yemen, the poorest country on the Arabian Peninsula and, as a matter of fact, in the Arab world, since having invaded it in 2015. It is by no means beyond the imaginable that, if Qatar does not capitulate to the Saudi-led bloc’s demands, Riyad may even invade the Qatari peninsula as it did with Bahrain in March 2011 when a popular mass uprising threatened to overthrow the reactionary monarchy following the outbreak of the Arab spring.
As socialists, we recognize the thoroughly counterrevolutionary nature of the Saudi-led aggression against Qatar. If the Qatari state is forced to expel representatives of resistance movements like Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Taliban residing there, and/or if Al-Jazeera would be forced to change its editorial policy to appease Trump, the Saudi king and the Egyptian dictator, these would represent severe blows to the Qatari state. Therefore, socialists around the world must resolutely oppose this aggression without, at the same time, lending any political support to the Qatari monarchy.
Only the future will reveal what role the individual imperialist powers will play in the Qatari crisis. However, we can already see that Russia’s imperialist government is becoming increasingly nervous about the accelerating conflict, because Qatar holds a 19.5% stake in Russia's state-owned Rosneft petroleum company, which could potentially be adversely affected by the crisis. If the rival imperialist Great Powers like the US, Russia, the EU or China should increase their intervention in the conflict, and thereby transform it from one between the Saudi-led bloc and Qatar into a proxy war between two or more of the Great Powers, socialists must lend no support to any side.
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For the RCIT analysis of the Arab Revolution in general and the Syrian Revolution in particular, we refer readers to our numerous articles and documents accessed from the Africa and Middle East section of our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/. In particular we refer readers to the following documents:
RCIT: Syria: Condemn the Reactionary Astana Deal! The so-called "De-Escalation Zones" are a First Step towards the Partition of Syria and a Conspiracy by the Great Powers to Defeat the Revolution, 7 May 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/astana-deal/
Michael Pröbsting: Is the Syrian Revolution at its End? Is Third Camp Abstentionism Justified? An essay on the organs of popular power in the liberated area of Syria, on the character of the different sectors of the Syrian rebels, and on the failure of those leftists who deserted the Syrian Revolution, 5 April 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/syrian-revolution-not-dead/
Yossi Schwartz: Raqqa: Defeat the US Imperialist Offensive! An assessment of the US/SDF/YPG war against Daesh, April 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/us-offensive-in-raqqa/
RCIT: Defeat the Imperialist Invasion in Syria – Victory to the Revolution! Down with the American and Russian interventions! No to the imperialist plan to divide Syria! Down with the butcher Assad and his imperialist allies! 13.03.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/imperialist-invasion-in-syria/
RCIT: For the Iranian Revolution! Down with the capitalist Mullah dictatorship! Down with Imperialism! For a working class revolution in Iran! February 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/iran-platform/
RCIT: World Perspectives 2017: The Struggle against the Reactionary Offensive in the Era of Trumpism, Theses on the World Situation, the Perspectives for Class Struggle and the Tasks of Revolutionaries, 18 December 2016, Chapter IV. The Middle East and the State of the Arab Revolution, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/world-perspectives-2017/part-4/
RCIT: Revolution and Counterrevolution in the Arab World: An Acid Test for Revolutionaries, 31 May 2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/theses-arab-revolution/
RCIT: Yemen: The al-Hadi Puppet Government Calls for an Imperialist Invasion! Victory to Yemen! Defeat the Al-Saud Gang of Aggressors!, 8.5.2015, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/assault-on-yemen/
RCIT: Israel Starts Ground Offensive: Defend Gaza! Defeat Israel’s War! Support the Palestinian Resistance! For a Workers’ and Popular International Campaign to Boycott Israel! Down with the Regimes which Collaborate with Israel! For a Free, Red Palestine! 22.7.2014, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/joint-statement-defend-gaza/
RCIT: General Sisi – The Butcher of the Egyptian People – Sentences another 683 People to Death, 1.5.2014, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/egypt-mass-death-sentences/
Michael Pröbsting: The Coup d'État in Egypt and the Bankruptcy of the Left’s “Army Socialism”. A Balance Sheet of the coup and another Reply to our Critics (LCC, WIVP, SF/LCFI), 8.8.2013, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/egypt-and-left-army-socialism/
Yossi Schwartz: Israel's War of 1948 and the Degeneration of the Fourth International, May 2013, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/israel-s-war-of-1948/