Yellow vests in Paris, Brexit in Britain, Trump in the US, George Soros and Steve Bannon vying for the soul of Europe, Turkey embroiled in the Kurdish enclaves in Syria, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in post Khashoggi free fall, corruption allegations enveloping Netanyahu: In the midst of these global wind storms, cyclones, tornadoes is the calm centre which I visited last week. It is four hours flight away from New Delhi – indeed most major Indian cities – Qatar or, to be more precise, Doha, the capital, where 80 percent of the population lives.
The ghoulish murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi has set into motion a new dynamic in the Syrian, Yemeni, Palestinian and other incipient conflicts in West Asia. Popular perception globally has traced the macabre plot to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, even though the Saudi propaganda machine is deflecting guilt.
The mad pursuit for a New Middle East, repeatedly thwarted, keeps resurfacing, hydra-like. The driving force behind the neocon dream has metastasized into all sorts of outlandish and frightful scenarios. Has the strategic community forgotten founder of Blackwater, Eric Prince’s idea of “governing” Afghanistan exactly as the British governed India in early 20th century – under a “Viceroy”.
That Qatar has relations with Iran is disliked in Riyadh, ofcourse, but what causes much deeper anxieties is the material and moral support Qatar can provide to Muslim Brotherhood which represents all the tendencies that the Otaybi rebellion in 1979 represented.
Should he become President in November, Trump will have George W. Bush to thank. He is a product of the chaotic world order left behind by Bush and which Barack Obama failed to contain.
Israeli Defence minister Moshe Ya’alon spent the evening persuading his listeners that all the world’s problems emanate not from ISIS or Al Qaeda but from that fount of all evil, Iran. This when there are rumours galore that a nuclear deal with Tehran is on the cards.
I commend to my Israeli friends that they read Shibley Telhami’s opinion poll on shifting ideas in the US about Israel, something even Thomas Friedman is worried about. There may be a shaft of light.
Eid-ul Zuha is on October 6. Attribute it to their black humour, but Arab diplomats not in the Saudi camp, have been floating a story: Abu Bakr al Baghdadi may like to celebrate Eid in Mecca. I had written three weeks ago that a Caliphate cannot be a Caliphate without Mecca.
It would be useful for Sushma Swaraj to recall the goings on in Atal Behari Vajpayee’s cabinet. L.K. Advani and Jaswant Singh had agreed to send Indian troops to govern the Kurdish North of Iraq, exactly the region the Americans have now returned to in military formation.