Saudi Arabia Demands Qatar Shut Down Al Jazeera

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From the Wall Street Journal:

Saudi Arabia and other Arab states that have severed ties with Qatar issued a list of severe demands to end the worst regional diplomatic crisis in years, telling their Persian Gulf neighbor to close state broadcaster Al Jazeera, curb ties with Iran and end Turkey’s military presence on its soil….The government of Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani has 10 days to accept the demands, which include paying reparations and providing information on all opposition groups it has supported, the document says, without specifying what penalties the Saudi-led group will impose if Qatar fails to comply.

And there you have it. Does Saudi Arabia really care about Qatar’s tightrope walk relationship with Iran, which it shares a gigantic gas field with? Or the 200 Turkish troops in Qatar? Or its ties to Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood?

Well, sure, they care. But Qatar is just pursuing standard small-country diplomacy, trying to balance its alliances so it doesn’t become a client state of the local hegemon. It’s hardly a threat to Saudi Arabia.

But Al Jazeera is, because it provides a view of the outside world to ordinary Saudi citizens that’s not controlled by the Ministry of Keeping Everyone In Line. That’s really the only thing Qatar does that’s truly threatening.

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