Sputnik: What is your view on this latest development in the spat between Qatar and Riyadh? This is all over the intention to purchase air defense systems from Russia. What do you make of this?
James Dorsey: I think it’s primarily an attempt at intimidation as well as an attempt to stir the pot. Obviously Qatar is buying a defensive weapon system and has a sovereign right to do so, just like any other state does. What we have been seeing in the past year or maybe even longer is an attempt by Saudi Arabia and UAE to impose its will on Qatar, to in effect force it to subject itself to adopting Saudi policies rather than Qatari policies.
That’s an attempt that has so far failed and this is just the way to try and increase the pressure.
Sputnik: Let’s just go back to the start of this conflict, Qatar has always been the sort of younger brother of all these emirates and the spat started a while back and it seemed like there were accusations that’s Qatar was sponsoring terrorism. What do you think is really behind this spat to begin with?
James Dorsey: I think you have to look at it in a far larger context and that is if you look at much of the past decade, there have been a number of events that have really shaken the kingdom, as well as the Emiratis. They include the popular revolts in 2011, in which Arab leaders were toppled. They included US tacit support for those popular revolts against the background of growing disinterest on the part of Barack Obama in the Middle East and a far greater interest in Asia.
The result of that was that Saudi Arabia and the UAE, particularly, became much more assertive; felt that they could no longer simply rely on the US that they needed to take thing in their own hands.
The way they have done so is to try and shape the Middle East in its entirety in their mold. That played into the Syrian war, explains the Yemen war, Saudi intervention in Bahrain to squash the popular revolt in 2011, although Qatar participated in that; and the attempt to force Qatar to toe the line.
The views and opinions expressed by James Dorsey are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.