Riyadh threatens Qatar over Muslim Brotherhood support

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Qatar’s courting of the Muslim Brotherhood annoys Saudi Arabia to break up the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) and it could have reverberations on the US petrodollar trade.

The Saudis are threatening to isolate Qatar by closing their border and airspace if the Doha-based government doesn’t stop supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Arab, a London-based newspaper known to have close ties to Saudi decision makers, has reported.

A Saudi official is said to have delivered an urgent message from the Saudi government to the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani that included a “threat” that Riyadh is reviewing its relations with Doha.

The oil-producing countries in the Middle East loyal to the United States are key to the support of the US dollar as the reserve currency of choice. Members of the PGCC agree to transact all their oil sales in US dollars, which works to maintain the US dollar as the dominant world currency. The unwritten agreement is that the US provides military protection and the oil producers continue to help maintain the US dollar as the standard for all oil transactions. This December, in a sign of growing frustration, Saudi Arabia has expressed displeasure with US diplomatic and military decisions in the region.

The rift between Saudi Arabia and Qatar is another sign of a growing fissure in the petrodollar alliance.

In this instance, Qatar is being charged with breaching the PGCC’s guidelines for the policies and positions in supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, particularly towards Egypt. The Al-Arab newspaper points out Saudi Arabia believes that the Emir of Qatar did not abide by the agreement he signed in a summit in Riyadh in the presence of the Emir of Kuwait two months ago, to stop the use of the Qatari soil in actions that harm the Kingdom.

The report noted this Saudi threat coincides with a similar Egyptian threat that was expressed by the Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, who said, “We reject the Qatari stance, in form and content, and there should not be any intervention in internal Egyptian affairs.”

If the Saudis were to shut their land border with Qatar, it would mean controlling Qatar entirely, because the Persian Gulf state does not have territorial access to the world except through the Saudi port, preventing it from using Saudi airspace and withdrawing the licenses of Qatar Airways to operate flights between Saudi Arabian cities.

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