This is the story of a Big King and Small King and the Leader of the Free World who lived in a faraway land but whose shadow fell over the kingdoms (we can call him LFW, for short). The two kings were very very rich and bathed in oil every morning so they never had to buy body lotion. Their kingdoms were located in a region where many many people were dying of wars anyway, so it did not matter if there were more wars.
The Big King was the descendent of the House of Saud that ruled Saudi Arabia that was the largest exporter of oil and intolerant Wahabbi Islam in the world, a creed that basically preached that all non-believers would rot in hell if their heads could not be chopped off on earth.
Many people accused this ideology of being the root cause of Islamic terrorism in the world, but since oil came out of all their pores the Saudis knew how to grease the palms of Those Who Matter and make them look the other way.
Recently LFW travelled across the oceans to visit Big King and he was given the biggest military contract that made him very very happy as it would create a thousand jobs in the US. He reasoned that there would be no harm in war as long as Americans got jobs making the weapons to be sold overseas to fuel more wars and be supplied surreptitiously to terror groups, because then the American troops could go and fight against those they had armed anyway. LFW loved to say “genius” about himself.
He also knew that Saudi Arabia was special as besides oil within its boundaries lay two holy sites whose names he kept forgetting. But Big King was not happy, although he knew he had LFW in the bag.
The irritant was some statements (later denied) made by a descendant of the House of Thani, who ruled a small kingdom called Qatar that had just 3 million inhabitants but large oil and gas reserves, making its per capita income the highest in the world. This kingdom also had the lethal weapon of a TV channel.
That really annoyed Big King and the small Emirs in the region and to add salt to injury, Qatar would also be hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup!
So Big King and the little Emirs of the region (all allies of the US) decided to fix Qatar by accusing it of cosying up to terrorists. A big nation called Egypt joined them. Here it gets complicated as to which terrorists they meant. Islamic State and al-Qaida? No, they meant the Muslim Brotherhood, an influential Islamic revivalist group whose political front managed to win elections in Egypt only to be ousted by the military.
The Saudis did not like the Brotherhood either as they could not tolerate Islamic purists who fought elections. But they were really annoyed with Qatar for pursuing an independent foreign policy that included engagement with Persia now called Iran.
Iran really annoyed Big King and LFW because it had oil (and possibly nuclear weapons) and its people ate pistachios and walnuts and kept telling Americans and Israelis to get lost. Thirty years ago they were the single biggest purchasers of US arms (as the Saudis now are), but ever since they threw Americans out they became terrorists.
Although the Iranians were fighting Islamic State and the religion they practised did not seem to mutate to global jihad, they were terrorists because LFW said so. But since Iran was immune to bullying, the US allies led by Saudi Arabia went after Qatar, snapping diplomatic ties, cancelling flights.
A nugget of interest to Indians: the commander of the military grouping led by Saudi Arabia was former Pakistan army chief Raheel Sharif. He could have been one of those Pakistanis who start believing they have become Arabs, a common tendency among the military elite of that land. The story ends with world war three being lit in those parts by petroleum soaked dollars and NOT because of a clash of civilisations.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.