RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA — Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has threatened to take military action against Qatar if the nation follows through with plans to install a Russian S-400 anti-aircraft defense system. The Saudi king penned a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron, expressing his concern over negotiations between Qatar and Russia:
The kingdom would be ready to take all necessary measures to eliminate this defense system, including military action.”
While Salman stated that Saudi Arabia aims to maintain peace in the region by preventing the sale of the Russian defense system, the kingdom’s actions speak otherwise. Under the guise of maintaining peace, Saudi Arabia is responding to the perceived threat of a growing alliance between Iran and Qatar due to Iran’s economic growth as well as anti-western imperialist ideology in the region.
In 2017, Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar in response to a report claiming the Qatari Emir wasn’t sufficiently hostile toward Iran. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain have accused Iran of sponsoring terrorism. What the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain fail to acknowledge is that Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest financier of Wahabbi terrorism and is responsible for the starvation of over 8 million Yemenis, along with their ally, the United States.
Saudi Arabia has tormented its neighbor both before and after officially severing ties. In 2017, Saudi Arabia added restrictions unique to Qatari citizens who were traveling for Hajj. Qatar accused the kingdom of attempting to engineer regime change during the historic land, maritime, and air blockade imposed on the country by a coalition of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia that took place on year ago on Tuesday. In April, MintPress reported that Saudi Arabia may consider a proposal to dig a canal along its border with Qatar, turning the tiny nation into a island, and transforming the only land border into a nuclear waste site.
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Qatar’s ambassador to Russia said in January that Qatar was in talks with Russia to buy an S-400 missile air-defense system in response to the increasing hostility directed at the small nation. Moscow’s plans to deliver the surface-to-air missiles will not change despite opposition from the Saudis, according to Sputnik.
Aleksei Kondratyev, a member of the Russian upper house and the deputy chairman of the committee on Defense and Security, told Sputnik:
Russia seeks its own interest, supplying S-400 to Qatar and earning money for the state budget. Saudi Arabia’s position has nothing to do with it, Russia’s plans will not change. It is clear that Riyadh plays a dominant role in the region, but Qatar gets an advantage by enhancing its armed forces due to the acquisition of Russian S-400 systems. Therefore, Saudi Arabia’s tension is understandable.»
Qatar has a history of purchasing arms from the United States, not Russia. But as hostility from U.S. allies increased, Qatar has had few places to turn.
Turkey recently agreed to purchase the same S-400 missile defense system from Russia, for which the country was recently punished in the U.S. Senate’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2019. The spending bill includes a measure barring Turkey from purchasing F-35 fighter jets as a result of its agreement with Russia, as reported by MintPress.
Top Photo | A traditional dhow floats in the Corniche Bay of Doha, Qatar. (AP/Saurabh Das)
Emma Fiala is MPN’s Editorial Assistant and social media guru. She is also a documentary photographer, mom of two, and an independent journalist. Her stories have been featured on MintPress News, the Anti-Media, Media Roots, and Steemit. Find her on Twitter.