With all diplomatic ties between Qatar and most of its fellow GCC members now severed in an ideological row with Saudi Arabia, the Saudi kingdom has publicly issued an ultimatum, giving Qatar just 24 hours to give in to a litany of major demands, with speculation that they would face immediate military invasion if they don’t submit by then.
The ten demands get progressively more outrageous, starting with demands for Qatar to publicly sever all ties to Iran and officially “apologize” for how mad the Saudis got at them. It gets more and more extreme from there, demanding Qatar expel every member of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood from the nation and freeze all their bank accounts.
Ultimately, the demands also include Qatar publicly vowing to never again have any policy which is perceived as “contradicting” the GCC’s official stance. The GCC is dominated heavily by Saudi Arabia, so in effect this means Qatar must promise to eternally and irrevocably endorse the Saudi position, past, present, and future, on all things.
Then, because as the list goes on the demands are increasingly about just publicly spiting the Qatari Emirate, they demand al-Jazeera be permanently shut down for taking positions contrary to the Saudis, and for Qatar to immediate expel “all the personalities” who they see as in any way hostile to the GCC.
Officially Saudi Arabia hasn’t said what the “or else” part of this ultimatum is, though speculation around the Arab media scene is that it is a military invasion. That would be hugely problematic, however, because Qatar is the host of the largest American military base in the Middle East, and President Trump’s sudden hostility toward Qatar aside the US probably wouldn’t view that invasion favorably.
This is doubly true in the immediate wake of President Trump reaching a huge arms sale deal with Saudi Arabia, as many Americans would doubtless be appalled by the idea of the US selling the Saudis arms just so they could invade and conquer a neighbor who is a long-time US ally.
An invasion of Qatar might not be so easy, either, despite its small size, as the nation has been among the world’s richest for generations and has bought more than a few US weapons themselves. On top of that, Turkey’s parliament has authorized sending their own troops to the country in support of the Emir. Turkey’s government has been critical of the Saudis over this latest move.
And for all of President Trump’s feigning of credit for the hostility toward Qatar right now, US officials clearly did not anticipate this and are describing themselves as having been “blindsided” by the sudden ferocity of Saudi outrage.
On top of that, the demands are largely demands that no other nation within the GCC would ever be asked to make. Oman, for instance, has close diplomatic relations with Iran, and other nations within the alliance certainly having expelled every single Muslim Brotherhood member from their borders, let alone been asked to shut down their state media outlet for contradicting the Saudis.