A ploy that appears to have been intended to isolate Iran has instead brought Turkey, Iran and Kuwait together in defence of Qatar.
A week into the crisis Saudi Arabia instigated when it broke diplomatic relations with Qatar and imposed a land and air blockade of the tiny Gulf state, it is becoming clear that it is failing to bring Qatar to heel.
Instead Qatar has successfully secured pledges of support from Turkey and Iran – the two military giants in this region – appears to have the tacit support of Kuwait, and is gaining diplomatic traction with Russia.
As for the US, though US President Trump has seemed to tilt to Saudi Arabia’s side in this quarrel, US Secretary of State Tillerson – who as a former oil executive must know this region well – seems intent on taking a more conciliatory line towards Qatar, calling for the blockade on Qatar to be lifted. I have no doubt it will be his counsels which in the US will eventually prevail.
The US cannot afford to break relations with Qatar. Not only is Qatar strategically positioned as a key oil and gas producer but even more importantly it is home to the US’s gigantic Al Udeid Air Base, by far the biggest US air base in the Middle East, and a key element in the US’s whole military position in both the Middle East and the Gulf. Suffice to say that the US military’s Central Command has its forward base in this region at Al Udeid Air Base.