Russia Becomes 'Whipping Boy' of Mainstream Media – Analyst

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A series of emails have been leaked showing how a powerful individual lobbying for the United Arab Emirates tried to persuade Trump to fire incumbent Secretary of State Rex Tillerson over his failure to side with the Saudi-led bloc against Qatar. Sputnik spoke to Amalendu Misra, a senior lecturer of global politics at Lancaster University.

Sputnik: So, here we have a case of somebody trying to influence the US president’s decision-making on something as significant as the incumbent Secretary of State’s future for what appears to be reasons of personal business gain and on behalf of a foreign government. Why do you think the allegations against Russia have achieved so much greater attention in mainstream media than stories like this?

Amalendu Misra: Well there’s a very simple explanation to that: Russia has become the whipping boy. Anyone can pick up a particular issue and start undermining its interests. We can make a very clear case here between Russia and China. China does the same thing, not the kind of hacking business that is being spoken about, but so far as its international presence is concerned we have a limited opposition to China’s position. What I would say here is that Russia faces disproportionate criticism because it doesn’t make that strong presence that it should as a big power.

Sputnik: We did of course see Trump break publicly, on a number of occasions, with Secretary Tillerson on Qatar. Do you think it’s possible that the UEA’s efforts, and pressure from other Gulf States, could have something to do with this? Because it looks pretty conspicuous, doesn’t it?

Amalendu Misra: It does indeed because you have to look at the bigger picture. Look at the business side of the story: how much money is coming to Trump and the US from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, compared to how much of it is coming from Qatar? So we need to talk about what Trump is looking at in this specific context. How much is the United States going to gain by siding with Qatar and how much is it going to gain by siding with those that’re opposed to Qatar? If the United States is going to gain more why side with this small state, which has been dubbed as a television channel with a state? It makes business sense to isolate Qatar. But having said that, there have been kind of differences of opinion between Mr Tillerson and Mr Trump that’re playing out at the moment. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Emiratis are playing into it in a big way.

Sputnik: So, if the UAE and Saudi Arabia could get their own way, how would they like to see the US act toward Qatar from here on out?

Amalendu Misra: Well the fact is, in spite of their intentions and efforts, Qatar has not been isolated completely the way they would have liked to have seen. And not only that, in recent months we have seen Mr Tillerson go to Qatar and establish a kind of memorandum of understanding. The isolationist policy that the other Arab states were trying to follow in terms of keeping Qatar out of the equation hasn’t succeeded. Maybe this will be one way of looking at how a lobby or a kind of group can enforce specific issues or kinds of undertakings in Washington and on Capitol Hill. So at the end of the day, it is down to how to influence the policy proposition of the United States toward Qatar.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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