Two Impulsive Leaders Fan the Middle East’s Flames

President Donald Trump meets with the Deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia

07 July 2017 |Dilip Hiro | War is Boring

Saudi Arabia’s rushed attempt to isolate Qatar is not going as anticipated

“…in retrospect, it’s clear that the four members of the anti-Qatar axis rushed into their drastic action without assessing that tiny country’s strengths, including the soft power exercised by its pan-Arab Al Jazeera satellite T.V. network.

Unsurprisingly, their governments banned Al Jazeera broadcasts and websites and closed down its bureaus. Elsewhere in the Arab world, however, that popular outlet remains easily accessible.

As a littoral state, Qatar has a large port on the Persian Gulf. Within a week of the Riyadh-led boycott of Qatar, three ships, carrying 350 tons of fruit and vegetables, were set to leave the Iranian port of Dayyer for Doha, while five cargo planes from Iran, loaded with 450 tons of vegetables, had already landed in the Qatari capital.

So far nothing has turned out as the Saudis or Trump anticipated.  Qatar is resisting and Turkish Pres. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has flatly refused to withdraw his troops from the emirate, increasing the Turkish military presence there instead.

From all this, an overarching picture emerges — that the impulsive Donald Trump has met his younger counterpart, Prince Muhammad bin Salman, equally impulsive and blind to even the medium-term consequences of his aggressive initiatives.

In addition, in an autocratic monarchy without free speech, elections, or representative government, and with an abominable record on human rights violations, he lacks all checks and balances.

The shared obsession of the prince and the president with Iran, which neither of them is able to comprehend in its complexity, has the potential for creating a true global crisis. If anything, the pressure on Trump in his imagined new world order is only increasing to do the Saudis one better and push a regime-change agenda in a big way when it comes to Iran.

It’s a formula for disaster on a breathtaking scale

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