The Sunni Gulf powers have long been spoiling for a fight with Iran. This could be just the excuse they need.
Sarajevo 1914, Doha 2017? We could be at a historic moment akin to the assassination of the heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which resulted in what became known as the Great War. This time, though, the possible clash is between a Saudi-United Arab Emirates force and Iran. Washington is going to have to act quickly to stop the march to war, rather than wait for the carnage to begin.
The nominal target of Saudi Arabia and the UAE is Qatar, which has long diverged from the Arab Gulf consensus over Iran. Riyadh and a growing list of Arab countries broke ties Monday with the gas-rich emirate, and Saudi Arabia announced that it had halted permission for Qatari overflights, closed the land border, and banned ships bound for Qatar transiting its waters. This is a casus belli by almost any definition. For perspective, the Six-Day War, which occurred 50 years ago this week, was prompted by Egypt’s closure of the Straits of Tiran, thus cutting off Israel’s access to the Red Sea.