One day last week, Pres. Trump joined Saudi Arabia and a few other countries in condemning Qatar as a sponsor of terrorism. Qatar probably is, but the Saudis themselves have actions for which the president assured them he would not hold them accountable. In taking sides against Qatar, he put the US into a fight in which neither side stands for human rights, equality, or religious freedom. Then, the next day, he sold $12 billion of arms to Qatar. On top of that, he and Sec’y of State Rex Tillerson announced that they would end the traditional iftar dinners which the White House and State Dept. have hosted every Ramadan since 1995, including just a few months after 9/11. This is bound to have a chilling effect on US relations with everyone in the region. It adds to the narrative that Trump is anti-Islam.
If his policy seems confusing, it’s partly because the whole region’s story is confusing. NPR’s Planet Money podcast looked at Qatar in a marvelous story that involves falcons, kidnappings, and that freaky orb.
Saudi Arabia and several nearby countries have blockaded tiny Qatar, cut off all trade, closed the border. It seemed like overnight, Qatar went from being on top of the world to being a regional pariah.So we wondered: What’s going on?