In unsettling news from the Middle East, a number of regional powers have cut off relations with Qatar. With its sole land border with Saudi Arabia and a maritime blockade taking shape, there has been a food scare that has sent Qatari denizens dashing to grocery stores to stock up before shortages hit. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates have all joined in the mass isolation of Qatar, with several of the nations providing Qatari citizens residing in their countries mere weeks to leave.
Much of the row hedges on Qatar’s support for certain Islamist organizations, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas (though this also appears to be the boiling point of a simmering scandal that started with a fake news story). Nations in the region with hereditary rule – such as Saudi Arabia – see the Muslim Brotherhood as a threat to their prevailing power structures.
Yet, in dressing its critique of Qatar in a cloak of anti-extremism, Saudi Arabia is being quite disingenuous. The oil-rich nation has an extensive track history of funding radical Sunni sects around the world. Saudi money has propped up Mosques and schools that espouse Wahhabism, a school of Sunni Islam that provided the theoretical foundation for al-Qaeda, among other radical terror groups.
As the Syrian Civil War blazes on and regional tensions reach a tipping point, this new diplomatic crisis will only exacerbate the overall state of geopolitics in the region – and across the world.