The rift between Qatar and Saudi ruling families is resurfacing again after being plastered away for some time.
The strategy on how to deal with the Syrian rebels and how to interact with the Iraqi government, are the latest of the disputes.
“Saudi-Qatari rivalry undermines Saudi Arabia’s historic role in the Middle east .. the Saudi-Qatari relationship has been defined by mutual distrust,” Giorgio Cafiero -a research analyst with CRS- in an article on FPIF.
Here is quick run-down of major highlights of Qatar and Saudi relations:
- A border dispute between Saudi and Qatar in 1992 violence erupted during which the “Saudis” were accused of killing 2 Qatari soldiers
- 1995 Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani deposed his father to become Emir of the ‘city-state’ of Qatar. In 1996 Saudi is accused of a coup to overthrow the new Qatar Emir. A number of Saudi nationals were imprisoned in Qatar.
- In 2000, the Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz (now Saudi King) boycotted the Ninth Islamic Summit conference in Qatar.
- 2002 The Saudi ambassador was recalled from Doha in a protest to Al-Jazeera’s media coverage of Saudi.
- In 2005, Saudi obstructed plans to build a bridge linking Qatar to United Arab Emirates.
- In 2006, Saudi Arabia stopped a US$3.5 billion gas pipeline project from Qatar to the United Arab Emirates which infuriated the Qataris and Emiratis alike.
- In 2006 also, the Gas pipeline was intended to supply Kuwait with Qatari gas. This was stopped by Saudi.
- In 2006, Saudi-owned Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat claimed that Qatar’s prime minister had visited Israel in secret.
- In 2008 Saudi and Qatari signed an agreement to establish the sea borders between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. There are still disputes over land borders.
- In 2009 Saudi Arabia refused to attend a conference on Gaza held in Doha.
- Qatar’s unequivocal support for Arab Spring in 2011 was faced with Saudi objection. Saudis sheltered the deposed Tunisian Dictator and supported the Egyptian Dictator Hosni Mubarak during the protests and beyond.
- In 2012 again, Saudi & Qataris ruling families are at odds with each other over Qatar’s support and Saudi’s counter-revolution to Muslim Brotherhood power grab.
- In 2013, the Iraqi-Saudi relations are moving in a different direction compared to Qatar-Iraq almost hostile relations.
Saudis may be tactically working to rebuild an axis to counter the Qatar-Turkey axis which is playing havoc in the Middle East. Something the Saudi Rulers are not happy about. It is certain that they will not be prepared to relinquish their influence in the region to their junior neighbour Qatar or to the Neo-Ottoman ‘Erdogan of Turkey’.