If you want a good backgrounder on the current crisis in the Gulf, this piece by Simon Henderson in Foreign Policy will do nicely. But I want to highlight the precipitate causes instead:

  • The inciting incident was a news story transmitted by the Qatar News Agency quoting the Emir saying that “There is no reason behind Arabs’ hostility to Iran” and touting Qatar’s good relations with both the Muslim Brotherhood and with Israel.
  • Qatar claimed this was “fake news” placed on its station by hackers (possibly Iranian hackers looking to make trouble in the Gulf).
  • The Saudis and Emiratis drummed up popular outrage, blocked access to Qatari disavowals to prevent that outrage from dissipating, and then used the story as an excuse for actions — like a blockade — that can only be described as acts of war.

In other words: the Middle East is on the brink of war over a possibly fake news item that sparked outrage by being too supportive of peaceful relations with entities on the official hate list.

Trump’s twitter account didn’t come out of nowhere. This insanity is a global phenomenon. And we are on the brink of the first troll war.