The situation between Saudi Arabia and Qatar continues to worsen. The two countries have been at odds over Iran, with both sides arguing against the actions of the other. The latest round in the conflict started over Qatar’s attempts to purchase a S-400 anti-aircraft missile system from Russia.
King Salman of Saudi Arabia sent a letter to the French President Emmanuel Macron warning that the kingdom would be willing to use force if Qatar moves forward with its attempt to acquire the S-400. He also expressed concern over the scheduled sale to Qatar, which has been under a blockade.
“[In such a situation], the kingdom would be ready to take all the necessary measures to eliminate this defense system, including military action,” said King Salman in the letter.
With the backing of its regional allies, including Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia broke off relations with Qatar in June last year. The coalition accused Qatar of supporting radical Islamist groups, as well as having too close a relationship with Iran, who is an arch-enemy of the kingdom and has also been seen as a destabilizing influence within the region. Since that time, there have also been economic sanctions put in place against Qatar, despite the fact that the country continues to deny the charges against it.
Qatar has attempted to get around the blockade by reaching out for allies in other areas of the world, including Russia. In January of this year, the country announced that it was in talks with Moscow about supplying the sophisticated S-400 system to them and noted that the talks were at an advanced stage.
King Salman pointed out that if Qatar had the missiles, then it could negatively impact regional stability.
Since the blockade began, hostilities in this section of the Middle East have continued to grow. In May, Qatar ordered any goods originating from Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are to be removed from the stores within Qatar. It appears that there is no easy end to the crisis between these nations.
The S-400 is described as one of the better air defense systems in the world. It has attracted interest from a number of regional players in the Middle East, including Turkey and Iraq. This escalation could rock the Middle East even further, causing additional instability on top of the issues in Iraq and Syria.