Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Qatar: is this the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

Most will remember that the first world war "the Great War" if there was ever such a thing, started when the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by a Serbian nationalist.  Honestly, the pump was primed long before the Archduke was killed, but it is generally recognized that it was the final straw that lead to a war -- "to end all wars".

What is going on in the Middle East is equally strange and creating some strange behaviors.  There is no doubt that Qatar (a tiny gas rich country) has been saying and doing things outside the norm, the PLO and Israel both had offices there, and because it shares gas fields with Iran it is far less of an enemy of Iran (Shia) than is Saudi Arabia (Sunni), the conflict for leadership of the region has been on-going for decades (BTW this is not the first time that things got ugly between Qatar and SA).

Trump hand seems to be involved by strongly supporting the Sunni (aka Saudi Arabia) and making comments about Iran and the Shia threat, there is a possible reason for conflict to arise between Qatar and SA.  Some will say that this is about oil/gas other say its about a US$ 1 billion ransom that Qatar paid to Iran (or to other players) for some fun loving prince abducted in Iraq while on a Falconing (SP) trip... There rumors that the reigning prince said that Hamas was the legitimate ruler of Palestine or that Iran was a calming influence in the region... As the FT said, it may have been planted in the news, but it does reflect general sentiments in Qatar -- that wants to be friends with all.

In fact, it matters little what the reasons are but the changing dynamics of the GCC (the Middle Eastern equivalent of NATO -- without the guns).  How can this end?  Well not well for Qatar that is certain.  Qatar has a tiny army (a reflection of a tiny country -- there are only about 100,000 Qatari citizen -- and about 3 million resident)  but the overall impact is important; Qatar is the location of one of America's largest military base...

And there's the other shoe.  Today, in less than 7 days after meeting the head of Qatar -- where everything was fantastic, great, well today the US of A dumped one of its allies and seem to be keen to topple that regime.  What does that say to America's other "friends"  watch out; "my word is not my bond", and in the case of Trump it is well know that even a contract is not a contract.

The important point here, is in sync with what Germany and France have been saying about the USA lately -- that it has become a fickle friend and that on that basis -- you should plan without it. Needless to say that in the past 15 days Trump has managed to unbalance two important groups; NATO and GCC -- not bad for two weeks of work.  It is far from clear that this was in reality Trump's objective, assuming that he has an objective.

One thing for sure, it was Trump that decided to ditch Article 5 of the NATO agreement -- this was not some mid level error, this was the decision of the commander in chief, for what reason, what's his bargaining chip -- again we don't know.  But America has become a destabilizing agent, the impact is hard to figure out because there are too many possible outcome.

Finally, more intersting news the $110 billion contract between Saudi Arabia and the US, is not a contract, its a bunch of letter of intents -- that have been around for years, the helicopter deal has been in the works since 2015 (Obama signed of that deal in 2015).  Its a wish list, there are no orders, just lots of MOU...

Fake news is really here, just didn't know it came out of the White House (HaHaHa)


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