How the Saudi-Qatar Rivalry, Now Combusting, Reshaped the Middle East

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tags: Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Qatar



Thumbnail Image - By StellarD - Own work, GFDL

The crisis convulsing the Persian Gulf, entangling the United States and now threatening to pull in Turkey and Iran, can be traced to a dilemma facing a man who had just deposed his own father.

When Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the crown prince of Qatar, took power in a bloodless coup in 1995, he seized a barely independent nation about the size of Connecticut, with one-seventh its population. It had been dominated since independence in 1971 by its far larger and more powerful neighbor, Saudi Arabia.

He believed Qatar could find security only by transforming itself from Saudi appendage to rival. But how?

The audacious plan he put in motion set off something of a regional cold war, in time remaking not just the politics of the oil-rich Persian Gulf, but also those of the entire Middle East, culminating in last week’s crisis.





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