LOOKING OUT FOR BIG BROTHERS: The risk of losing it all

François Soudan, Managing Editor of Jeune Afrique, pens in his article of the 13th of June: ‘Que vient faire l’Afrique dans cette galère’
“Si l’on exclut l’Égypte, partie intégrante de la coalition anti-Doha dès le premier jour et la Libye pour l’instant acéphale, pas moins de huit pays du continent ont d’ores et déjà obtempéré, sans enthousiasme il est vrai, aux ordres de Riyad : Mauritanie, Sénégal, Niger, Tchad, Gabon, Comores, Maurice et dans une moindre mesure Djibouti. On remarquera qu’il s’agit là d’États faibles ou/et en proie à des difficultés économiques, sur lesquels les arguments employés par les émissaires saoudiens ont eu un impact prévisible.”
Ces arguments sont à la fois d’ordre financier, l’Arabie Saoudite ayant toujours privilégié l’aide directe aux chefs d’État par rapport à l’aide aux projets de développement ; d’ordre diplomatique – la force de frappe géopolitique du royaume wahhabite est incomparablement supérieure à celle du Qatar.” (http://www.jeuneafrique.com/447439/politique/qatar-arabie-saoudite-vient...)
François Soudan is referring to the recent Qatar crisis, triggered by Saudi Arabia and backed by Trump. On the 5th of June, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE severed relations with Qatar, imposed a blockade and ordered the expulsion of the Qataris from their countries within 14 days. The reasons for these drastic measures remain hazy. Mr Trump announced, with his legendary diplomacy, that “The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level.” Mr Trump thereby demonstrates an unreserved desire to align the vision of the most powerful nation to that of Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy. Saudi Arabia accuses wealthy Qataris of being the only/main funders of Islamic terrorism, except that the Saudi’s own track record with terrorism is not exactly reassuring. The blacklisting of Qatar, with sole responsibility of terrorist funding, by Saudi Arabia and Mr Trump does not convince the international community.
What are the real reasons behind the Qatar crisis? There has been a long history of tension between Qatar and its neighbours. Qatar has always been seen as a small but powerful and slightly troublesome country which does not bow down enough to Saudi Arabia. Qatar is the world’s largest producer of liquefied natural gas and a significant airline hub and it has access to a mass audience through Al Jazeera. More importantly, it shares a massive gas field with Shia Iran in the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia’s chief rival in the region. Qatar has a different culture to Saudi Arabia, women vote, work, drive and it is 15 years since the death penalty was abolished. Qatar also hosts an-all determining US military air base from which the US could wield undue influence on, say, Iran... Qatar seems to be paying the price for the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
If these waters were not muddled enough, we now have the spectre of Moscow which allegedly created and diffused fake information through fake emails to exacerbate the rift between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Another thing about Mr Trump that comes out loud and clear is his great desire to sell arms to particular countries. His visit to Saudi Arabia came after the closure of a $100 billion arms deal to help Saudi Arabia ‘boost its defence capabilities’. The latest twist is that a few days after Mr Trump’s gung-ho crack down on Qatari funded terrorism, the US has signed a deal to supply F1-15 jets to Qatar ‘to increase security cooperation between the US and Qatar’.
The Saudia Arabia/Qatar crisis was never our war. And yet the context of the information released about Mauritius remains a mystery. Mr Trump was given the flattery and glorification that he craves for by the Saudis and ended up backing them. Do we have the equivalent in our local Cabinet, a wannabe, only too keen to kowtow to Saudi Arabia for the sake of being loved a bit more?
The communiqué from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs states: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, pursuant to its stand of maintaining cordial relations with all countries of the Gulf region, favours dialogue between the countries involved in the interest of peace and stability in the region and in the world.”
But the information now on several international news media must have come from somewhere and investigation there must be. Because if indeed, someone bypassed PMO to send out, in an élan of solidarity with Saudi Arabia, a note that jeopardises our sovereignty and projects our image in the world as one of the poorest and most vulnerable countries of Africa, then we have our own internal political crisis to deal with.
If this note went out, then this leaves us with a PM who has been too busy with pushing forward his begging bowl in India to notice that he does not control the official communication of his country. Meanwhile, the image being bandied about now is that of Mauritius as one of the little African countries, constantly looking out for the protection of Big Brothers and prepared to kowtow to Saudi Arabia.