Crisis In Qatar?

The Agonist reports that Qatar, the main staging ground for an attack on Iraq is in serious internal turmoil after a coup attempt this month. Qatar is home to al-Udied airbase, a key airfield for operations against Iraq that will host a massive US/UK joint military exercise in December.

I could not find a reference to this event in Lexis-Nexis, however Agonist sent me the original Stratfor report that mentioned it. It names a previous ArabicNews article on the coup attempt. However, without independent confirmation by a major media source, I can’t say for certain that this coup attempt did happen.

However, it is a distinct possibility. Qatar is by far the most wealthy of the Arab states because of it’s massive reserves of natural gas and small population. Qatar has also made overtures towards the West that have angered countries such as Saudi Arabia, and currently the government of Qatar has sentenced a Jordianian reporter to death for espionage.

The government of Qatar is in much the same position as Musharraf of Pakistan – they are in a nation with strong Islamic and terrorist ties but are siding with the West. Like Pakistan, there is a strong chance of violence breaking out. However, it is unlikely that a coup attempt would be successful as long as the US military presence in the region remains. Should such an event happen, it would likely be repelled by US forces. It would potentially delay an attack against Iraq, but it would not prevent it.

Qatar is already taking a risk by allowing the United States to build al-Udied and by siding with us. At this point, they’ve much to lose if they decide to back out now. They’ve already got the target painted on their back, and as long as the US remains, they’re relatively safe. If the US leaves, the militants will see them as an easy target.

States tend to act in their own self-interest, and right now the self-interest of Qatar is to ensure that they stay on what is sure to be the winning side of this conflict.

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