Tensions between the Gulf Arab states continues to rise today, with Saudi Arabia leading a new round of threats against Qatar, with Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry insisting that “all options” remain open for handling Qatar, amid rumors of a potential invasion.
The most extreme action of the day, however, came from the United Arab Emirates, which announced that anyone in the country caught expressing sympathy for Qatar would face up to 15 years in prison. Qatar is of course a close neighbor of the UAE, and the two nations have a long history of amicable relations.
Tensions between Qatar and the other nations mostly centers on Qatar supporting democratic reform during the Arab Spring, with the most recent round of anger fueled by a quote in Qatari state media that the Qatari Emir was averse to the Gulf Arab states picking a fight with Iran, something they’ve since insisted was a “fake news” story.
Saudi Arabia, which is leading the anti-Qatar move, has issued a series of demands to its neighbor, demanding that they permanently shut down al-Jazeera and vow to never again take any positions contrary to the rest of the GCC member nations, and giving them 24 hours to comply.
It is the Saudi ultimatum that is primarily fueling rumors of an imminent war, though the UAE Foreign Ministry has denied any specific plans to try to “impose regime change” on Qatar, and this may simply be wild speculation.