The country that makes Saudi Arabia look good

The reaction of the emir was predictable: He denied everything, according to my sources. Qatar is not supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, not supporting the al-Qaeda-influenced Nusra Front in Syria and not supporting the Houthis. The foreign ministers provided the emir with direct evidence, but the denials continued until the meeting broke up.

After this meeting, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the U.A.E. all recalled their ambassadors from Qatar, commencing a new stage in this Gulf cold war. Qatar has shown no sign that it is willing to stop its support for radical groups; no sign that it will stop using its television network, Al Jazeera, to cause problems for its neighbors (while scrupulously avoiding criticizing Qatar itself, of course); and no sign that it will prevent the region’s most important Sunni cleric, the radical and radically dyspeptic Yusuf al-Qaradawi, from using Qatar as a base to foment outrage on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere.

Qatar has achieved something remarkable, in my book, at least: It has made me relatively sympathetic to the Saudi regime. (Please, if you don’t mind, focus on that “relatively.”) The Saudis, for their many, many faults (ranging from their abhorrence of democracy to their abhorrence of women), have in place a foreign policy that is far more mature than that of Qatar.

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