I woke up this morning to several emails, blog posts, and news stories about the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahran, and Egypt cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar which in turn cuts commercial air service as well and expels Qatari citizens so far at least in the case of initial countries making this move.
Emirates, Etihad Airways and flydubai are suspending flights to Qatar starting Tuesday. Egypt has closed its airspace to Qatar Airways.
Qatar Airways First Class Check-in
Libya and the Maldives have cut ties with Qatar as a follow-on and so has Yemen. Perhaps more as well as Saudi Arabia is calling on more countries to do so.
While conflict with Israel gets the most press in the U.S., the primary conflict in the Mideast is between Saudi Arabia (along with Turkey) seeking Sunni influence in the region and working to counter Shia Iran. The conflict in Syria, for instance, is largely a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Saudis have fought Iran-backed rebels in Yemen over the past several years.
Qatar Airways Al Safwa Lounge, Doha
While Shia Islam is a minority in Qatar, it’s hardly an oppressed minority, and comments were recently broadcast by Qatar state media suggesting that Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani was in support of Iran and Hezbollah (and suggesting that Donald Trump wouldn’t remain in power long). Qatar denies that the comments were genuine and claims their media was hacked.
Qatar hosts a major US military installation, but has also been accused of supporting terrorism. Saudi Arabia, of course, fits that same description. Tensions between Qatar and other regional powers especially Saudi Arabia are hardly new, and this new flash point is fast developing.
Museum of Islamic Art, Doha
In the mean time we’ll have to see how it plays out and how long it lasts to understand how the region, and for our part travel, will be affected. Oil and gas prices could rise as well, which may rebound to the benefit of oil producing nations in the region… like Saudi Arabia.