Just two weeks after President Donald Trump's historic visit to Saudi Arabia, in which he called for Arab and Muslim unity to "drive out" extremists and terrorists, key Gulf Arab states and Egypt have severed diplomatic ties with the State of Qatar. On Tuesday, Trump used Twitter to praise the diplomatic break as a key success from his trip, strongly suggesting that the president supports the isolation of Qatar.
Despite Trump's seeming approval, the move by Saudi Arabia and other states has sent shockwaves across the region, creating a sense of tension while fueling speculation that the Arab world is about to witness yet another escalating conflict.
In addition to cutting off diplomatic ties, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have closed their airspace and sea-lanes to Qatari vessels. They have expelled Qatari diplomats, and Saudi Arabia, which shares the only land border with Qatar, announced the closure of that land crossing — a gateway for the vast majority of food produce that enters Qatar. That closure has already created a sense of panic among Qataris and led to a run on grocery stores.
For the first time in their history, Gulf states have imposed a siege on one of their own.
What makes this particular diplomatic rift worrisome is the potential involvement of the United States. All of the countries at play are strategic U.S. allies. All of them are cornerstones to U.S. military and intelligence operations in the Arabian Gulf and beyond.