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Wednesday, June 14

Saudis may have underestimated Qatar's resilience and options

The following report from FARS is on a take-it or leave-it basis and it's a bit garbled in one part at least to my reading. (See my note.) But I think it's very interesting if the Saudis expected their moves to isolate Qatar would quickly force Al Thani to capitulate. In that case -- back to the drawing board.

Whistle-Blower: Saudi Officials Imprisoned after Opposing Bin Salman's Plot against Al-Thani
June 13, 2017
FARS

TEHRAN (FNA)- Saudi whistle-blower Mujtahid, who is believed to be a member of or have a well-connected source in the royal family, disclosed failure of the plot hatched by Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammad bin Salman against Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

Mujtahid revealed that a number of members of Al ash-Sheikh, Saudi Arabia's leading religious family, including a member of the consultative assembly, were imprisoned in Istiraha by bin Salman to sign a statement against al-Thani.

He added that bin Salman freed them after being disappointed from their endorsement of the statement provided that they avoid releasing the incident through the social media.  [Pundita note: Huh?]

Mujtahid said the member of the consultative assembly might be pressured to deny his revelations or the Saudi media might damage his words.

In relevant remarks last Tuesday, Mujtahid disclosed that Mohammad bin Salman and Supreme Commander of UAE's Union Defense Force Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan have slammed the Saudi intelligence ministry for providing wrong intel about Qatar.

According to Mujtahid, the Saudi intelligence ministry had estimated a huge loss for Qatar following a severance by Riyadh and its allies of ties with Doha but the developments showed that Qatar had prepared itself for these days.

"Bin Salman and Bin Zayed had thought that (Qatari Emir) Tamim (bin Hamad Al Thani) will make concessions within 24 hours but the response that they received was challenge and continued release of the emails of the (UAE's) ambassador (to the United States, Yousef al-Otaiba) and other cases," he added.

According to reports, Riyadh and its regional allies had overestimated the negative impacts of closing their airspaces to Qatari planes, underestimating Doha's remaining option to use Iran's airspace by rerouting its flights.

Qatar Airways canceled flights to Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates a day after it had suspended flights to Saudi Arabia.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar last month, and suspended air and sea communication one week after the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh. Later, Libya and the Maldives joined that list of nation that break broke off diplomatic relations with Doha.

[END REPORT]

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