Qatar, which will host the 2022 football World Cup. Qatar is also home to the al-Udeid Air Base, which is head-quarters to the US military’s Central Command and some 10,000 American troops. Qatar is the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and has extensive air and banking net-work. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of destabilising the region. The countries say Qatar is supporting terrorist groups including the Muslim Brotherhood. “Qatar-bashing” articles suggest that an orchestrated campaign is underway to discredit Doha regionally but also — crucially — in the eyes of the Trump administration.
Speaking to Doha News, expert Dr. Kristian Coates Ulrichsen said the pressure is increasing on Emir Sheikh Tamim and a coup attempt could be afoot. Ulrichsen, who is a fellow for the Middle East at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, said:
“It seems that the Saudis and Emiratis feel emboldened by the alignment of their regional interests – toward Iran and Islamism – with the Trump administration, and have decided to deal with Qatar’s alternative approach on the assumption that they will have the administration’s back.”
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, hold views on Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood that are virtually indistinguishable from those in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are emerging as the two spearheads around which U.S. regional policies are realigning, including a set of hawkish defense and security interests; the joint raid conducted by U.S. and UAE Special Forces in Yemen in January may well be only the first of numerous joint initiatives across regional conflict zones in the months and years ahead. In Bahrain, the deadliest raid by security forces on opposition forces since 2011 resulted in five deaths just two days after Trump assured the Bahraini king of a new era in bilateral relations.