There Is a Surprise Winner in the Saudi-Qatar Blow-up That You Will Never Guess

In this Friday, June 2, 2017 photo released by Saudi Press Agency, SPA, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, left, talks to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince and Deputy Commander in Chief of the Emirates Armed Forces in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. Four Arab nations cut diplomatic ties to Qatar early Monday morning, June 5, further deepening a rift among Gulf Arab nations over that country's support for Islamist groups and its relations with Iran. (Saudi Press Agency via AP)

There are two key reasons behind the decision of a Saudi-led Arab coalition to cut diplomatic and commercial ties with the Gulf State of Qatar. First, Qatar is crapping itself trying to keep the Iranians appeased. Second, Qatar funds just about any terror organization that you care to mention. This is not to say the Saudis don’t have a history of funding terrorists but the Saudi oligarchs are careful to not fund terrorists that are hostile to the House of Saud, like ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatar funds both of those groups.


Yesterday, the Saudi foreign minister reiterated that Qatar has to cut funding for terror groups and he specifically named Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. He said Hamas undermined the Palestinian Authority (somewhat true) and the Muslim Brotherhood undermined the government of Egypt (definitely true).

This underscores an interesting alignment of forces in the Middle East. When Trump went to Saudi Arabia, one of his missions was to pitch sort of an Arab NATO with the US in an advise/assist role and with Israel providing technical and intelligence support. The suggestion wasn’t laughed at because the Arabs in the region are realizing that Iran is the existential threat to their existence.

The main beneficiary of the Saudi demand, though, is Israel. The Palestinian Authority allows Hamas to govern Gaza and has no real desire to change the situation–this, of course, is one of the reasons that a “two state solution” is so hard to broker in Israel, there are actually three governments involved–and Qatar has pledged $400 million to Hamas, this is money the Palestinian Authority doesn’t have to spend.


Hamas, understandably, is crapping bricks. Without Qatar money, Hamas dies.

A Hamas official says Saudi Arabia’s call to Qatar to cut ties with the Palestinian group is “regrettable” and contradicts traditional Arab support for the Palestinian cause.

Hamas official Mushir al-Masri also accused Saudi Arabia on Wednesday of siding with “American and Zionist calls to put Hamas on the terrorism list.”

Al-Masri’s strongly worded criticism of regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia was unusual for Hamas.

Qatar has been one of the few foreign backers of internationally shunned Hamas, an Islamic militant group that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007.

Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries cut ties with Qatar this week, accusing it of supporting extremists. Qatar has denied the allegations.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Tuesday that Qatar must sever ties with Hamas.

In fact, the Qatar refusal to cut off Hamas may very well have been the inciting incident that caused the diplomatic break. In regional media, it was reported in early May that the Saudis were pushing to defund Hamas.


If you look at this from the cui bono standpoint, the major winner is Israel. Defunding Hamas means that Israel is much, much safer than it was. It means that the Palestinian Authority will have to step up and govern Gaza. That, alone, will keep them occupied. It also points to a softening of Saudi opposition to Israel, and if the Saudis can find a way to defund Hamas and look noble you can bet they will find a way to recognize Israel while looking as Islamic as hell.


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