And of course, if there's regime change in Syria -- helped by the Qatari-proposed invasion -- things get much easier in Pipelineistan terms. A more than probable Muslim Brotherhood (MB) post-Assad regime would more than welcome a Qatari pipeline. And that would make an extension to Turkey much easier.
Ankara and Washington would win. Ankara because Turkey's strategic aim is to become the top energy crossroads from the Middle East/Central Asia to Europe (and the Islamic Gas Pipeline bypasses it). Washington because its whole energy strategy in Southwest Asia since the Clinton administration has been to bypass, isolate and hurt Iran by all means necessary.
That wobbly Hashemite throne
All this points to Jordan as an essential pawn in Qatar's audacious geopolitical/energy power play. Jordan has been invited to be part of the GCC -- even though it's not exactly in the Persian Gulf (who cares? It's a monarchy).
One of the pillars of Qatar's foreign policy is unrestricted support for the MB -- no matter the latitude. The MB has already conquered the presidency in Egypt. It is strong in Libya. It may become the dominant power if there's regime change in Syria. That brings us to Qatar's help to the MB in Jordan.
At the moment, Jordan's Hashemite monarchy is wobbly -- and that's a transcendental understatement.
There's a steady influx of Syrian refugees. Compound it with the Palestinian refugees that came in waves during the crucial phases of the Arab-Israeli war, in 1948, 1967 and 1973. Then add a solid contingent of Salafi-jihadis fighting Damascus. Only a few days ago one Abu Usseid was arrested. His uncle was none other than Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the infamous former head of al-Qaeda in Iraq, killed in 2006. Usseid was about to cross the desert from Jordan to Syria.
Amman has been mired in protests since January 2011 -- even before the spread of the Arab Spring. King Abdullah, also known as King Playstation, and photogenic Washington/Hollywood darling Queen Rania, have not been spared.
The MB in Jordan is not the only player in the protest wave; unions and social movements are also active. Most protesters are Jordanians -- who historically have been in control of all levels of state bureaucracy. But then neo-liberalism reduced them to road kill; Jordan went through a savage privatization drive during the 1990s. The impoverished kingdom now depends on the IMF and extra handouts from the US, the GCC and even the EU.
Parliament is a joke -- dominated by tribal affiliation and devotion to the monarchy. Reforms are not even cosmetic. A prime minister was changed in April and most people didn't even notice it. In an Arab world classic, the regime fights demands for change by increasing repression.
Into this quagmire steps Qatar. Doha wants King Playstation to embrace Hamas. It was Qatar that promoted the meeting in January between the King and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal -- who had been expelled from Jordan in 1999. That left indigenous Jordanians wondering whether the kingdom would be swamped by yet another wave of Palestinian refugees.
Arab media -- most of it controlled by the House of Saud -- has been drowning in stories and editorials predicting that after the MB ascends to power in Damascus, Amman will be next. Qatar, though, is biding its time. The MB wants Jordan to become a constitutional monarchy; then they will take over politically after an electoral reform that King Abdullah has been fighting against for years.
Now the MB can even count on the support of Bedouin tribes, whose traditional allegiance to the Hashemite throne has never been wobblier. The regime has ignored protests at its own peril. The MB has called for a mass demonstration against the King on October 10. The Hashemite throne is going down, sooner rather than later.
It's unclear how Obama would react -- apart from praying that nothing substantial happens before November 6. As for the Emir of Qatar, he has all the time in the world. So many regimes to fall -- and become Muslim Brothers; so many pipelines to build.
1. Qatar's emir calls for Arab-led intervention in Syria , The National, Sep 26, 2012.
2. Syria's Pipelineistan war , Al Jazeera, Aug 6, 2012.
3. Qatar: Rich and Dangerous , Oilprice.com, Sep 17, 2012.
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