With multiple conflicts raging in the Middle East, the last thing the region needed was yet another vitriolic confrontation bursting to the surface. But that is precisely what has transpired in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia. Members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, led by Riyadh, are fuming at the GCC’s maverick member, Qatar, in the aftermath of a very odd chain of events.
For now, the clashes have been limited to a war of words, mostly in the media. But the temperature is high, and the crisis has proven remarkable for its failure to die down even after Qatari officials said it was all just a big misunderstanding stemming from a hacking incident. Qatar’s furious neighbors are not buying Doha’s version, and the episode is shining an unwelcome spotlight on fundamental differences among the Gulf allies, revealing a deep crack in the GCC.
It all started the day after Trump left Riyadh. The Qatari news agency, QNA, reported that the country’s ruler, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, had given a stunning commencement speech to a graduating class of National Guard members.