The Qatar Crisis
The Qatar crisis soon may become even more dangerous:
Turkey’s parliament is expected to fast-track on Wednesday a draft bill allowing its troops to be deployed to a Turkish military base in Qatar, officials from the ruling AK Party and the nationalist opposition said.
The move appears to support the Gulf Arab country as it faces diplomatic and trade isolation from some of the biggest Middle Eastern powers.
Meanwhile, Qatar is negotiating with both Iran and Turkey for food and water supplies in response to the Saudi-Emirati-led attempt to blockade and isolate the country. Iran’s foreign minister is in Ankara to meet with President Erdogan today. Both governments have an incentive to help Qatar out of its present jam. Iran stands to gain influence and improve its ties with Qatar while frustrating the designs of the Saudis and Emiratis, and Turkey has an interest in keeping Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood in place, and both have their own reasons to be opposed to Saudi-led power plays in any case.
The Saudi-led bloc may have assumed that it could present Qatar with a fait accompli and force it to make concessions without much difficulty, but if these moves are any indication Qatar’s government is not going to capitulate so easily. Once again, the Saudis and their allies have assumed they could rack up an easy victory and haven’t considered how things could go wrong. Turkish and Iranian support for Qatar raises the prospect of a prolonged standoff with increasing risks for all parties. The possible deployment of Turkish forces is presumably intended to discourage Saudi adventurism, but it might very well precipitate the escalation it is meant to deter.
Qatar has been given a list of demands that it has to meet to end the blockade, but it can’t agree to all of those demands (including the shuttering of Al Jazeera) without suffering complete humiliation. If Qatar can count on support from some other regional governments, it isn’t likely to bow to pressure. The U.S. should oppose any attempt to resolve the crisis with force. Unfortunately, the president has already given the Saudis and Emiratis so many green lights to do whatever they want that it may now be too late to rein them in.