Unlike Iran which has the mightiest military in the wider Middle East, arguably even more disciplined than that of Turkey, the military might of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, for all the money they lavish on arms, is broadly incompetent and incapable. The average citizens of the small State of Qatar let alone the larger Saudi Kingdom are simply not equipped for serious, let alone long term military combat.
The United States just completed a sale of military hardware, including fighter jets to the pseudo-isolated Qatari state in a deal worth $12 billion.
This comes shortly after Donald Trump called Qatar a terrorist sponsoring state. Of course both Qatar and Saudi Arabia sponsor terrorism and for that matter they sponsor many of the same terrorist groups including ISIS.
Why then did America go through with its lucrative transaction that will see top-notch military hardware placed into the hands of a country that the US President called a terrorist supporting regime?
1. America Doesn’t Care
Often times the simplest explanation is the most accurate. Big weapons deals are big business and the United States whether led by Donald Trump, a former businessman or by anyone else, still craves the cash.
America’s relationship with all of the Gulf Cooperation Council states is a matter of economics and big economics at that. It is not a matter of ideology and certainly not a matter of security.
Why should America sacrifice its lucrative deals with Qatar while realistically Saudi Arabia and the UAE will almost certainly not stop buying arms from the US even if America maintains good relations with Qatar?
The United States has never been seriously interested in fighting terrorism. It’s arms deals with countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar are testament to this. America opposition to secular anti-terrorist governments in the Arab world ranging from Iraq to Libya and Syria are further testaments to this as is America’s pro-Israel position which destabilises the entire region.
In other-words, Trump’s anti-Qatar Tweet may well have been a brief moment of ‘going off script’.
Since Saudi and Qatar are neither bigger enough nor foolish enough to try and force America’s hand on the issue and to that end they both will almost certainly continue to do business with America even if they refrain from doing business with each other.
At the end of the day money is doing the talking in spite of what Tillerson or Trump might say.
2. Organised Chaos
There remains a possibility that the United States is playing Saudi and Qatar against each other. The regional economic tensions and foreign policy rivalry between Doha and Riyadh are ripe for exploitation.
What better way to increase demand for expensive American military hardware than to stoke up a regional rivalry than will in all likelihood not amount to any meaningful confrontation.
While Rex Tillerson presents the American face of neutrality, Donald Trump’s anti-Qatar and by extrapolation, pro-Saudi Tweets may be good for business.
In this sense, it is not just a series of unrelated but lucrative business deals for the US, it’s a calculated marketing campaign in which selling arms to the Saudi’s is Coca-cola and to counterbalance the high calorie intake of that particular beverage, one can then sell Diet Coke for the same price to Qatar.
3. A Long Term Plan To Fight Terrorism
Given America’s present policies in the Middle East which tell constant lies about Iran and Syria who are fighting ISIS and related groups while ignoring the very real ISIS sponsorship from the Gulf, this scenario is not incredibly likely. However, given that as a candidate, Donald Trump seemed to understand that ISIS is funded by Gulfi money, there is an ever so small possibility that this is part of a larger, long-term plan to actually curtail terrorism.
By keeping Saudi Arabia and Qatar distracted by local problems, it could mean that neither country will have as much time and money to invest into funding terrorists in other parts of the Arab world and wider world.
In this sense, deadlock among the rival sponsors of Salafist groups could actually stop some of the cash flowing into the hands of ISIS and al-Qaeda.
While not yet a likely scenario, one must not underestimate Donald Trump’s ability to surprise. The fact that under a Hillary Clinton Presidency, this scenario could not even for a moment be considered, is proof enough that Donald Trump is worth observing before being written off as just another POTUS.