#SYRIA #ARABSPRING @KC_SPENCER #USA
#Qatar is aiming at; to kill the US$10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline, a deal that was clinched even as the Syria uprising was already underway.
THE ROVING EYE
Why Qatar wants to invade Syria
By Pepe Escobar
Make no mistake; the Emir of Qatar is on a roll.
What an entrance at the UN General Assembly in New York; Sheikh Hamad bin
Khalifa al-Thani called for an Arab coalition of the willing-style invasion
of Syria, no less. 
In the words of the Emir, "It is better for the Arab countries themselves to
interfere out of their national, humanitarian, political and military
duties, and to do what is necessary to stop the bloodshed in Syria." He
stressed Arab countries had a "military duty" to invade.
What he means by "Arab countries" is the petromonarchies of the Gulf
Counter-Revolution Club (GCC), previously known as Gulf Cooperation Council
- with implicit help from Turkey, with which
the GCC has a wide-ranging strategic agreement. Every shisha house in the
Middle East knows that Doha, Riyadh and Ankara have been
weaponizing/financing/providing logistical help to the various strands of
the armed Syrian opposition engaged in regime change.
The Emir even quoted a "similar precedent" for an invasion, when "Arab
forces intervened in Lebanon" in the 1970s. By the way, during a great deal
of the 1970s the Emir himself was engaged in more mundane interventions,
such as letting his hair down alongside other Gulf royals in select Club Med
destinations, as this photo attests (he's the guy on the left).
So is the Emir now preaching an Arab version of the R2P ("responsibility to
protect") doctrine advanced by The Three Graces of Humanitarian Intervention
(Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha Power)?
This is certainly bound to go down well in Washington - not to mention
Ankara and even Paris, considering French president Francois Hollande has
just called for UN protection of "liberated zones" in Syria.
As for the Emir's Lebanon precedent, that's not exactly uplifting, to say
the least. The so-called Arab Deterrent Force of 20,000 soldiers that
entered Lebanon to try to contain the civil war overstayed its welcome by no
less than seven years, turned into a Syrian military occupation of northern
Lebanon, left officially in 1982 and still the civil war kept raging.
Imagine a similar scenario in Syria - on steroids.
A 'pretty influential guy'
As for the Emir's humanitarian - not to mention democratic - ardor, it's
enlightening to check out what US President Barack Obamathinks
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJlFXEtXV6Q> about it. Obama - who defines
the Emir as a "pretty influential guy" - seems to imply that even though "he
himself is not reforming significantly" and "there's no big move towards
democracy in Qatar", just because the emirate's per capita income is
humongous, a move towards democracy is not so pressing.
So let's assume the Emir is not exactly interested in turning Syria into
Scandinavia. That opens the way to an inevitable motive - connected to, what
Vijay Prashad, author of the recent Arab Spring, Libya Winter, is currently
writing a series on the Syria Contact Group for Asia Times Online. He got a
phone call from an energy expert urging him to investigate "the Qatari
ambition to run its pipelines into Europe." According to this source, "the
proposed route would have run through Iraq and Turkey. The former transit
country is posing to be a problem. So much easier to go north (Qatar has
already promised Jordan free gas)."
Even before Prashad concludes his investigation, it's clear what Qatar is
aiming at; to kill the US$10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline, a deal
that was clinched even as the Syria uprising was already underway. 
Here we see Qatar in direct competition with both Iran (as a producer) and
Syria (as a destination), and to a lesser extent, Iraq (as a transit
country). It's useful to remember that Tehran and Baghdad are adamantly
against regime change in Damascus.
The gas will come from the same geographical/geological base - South Pars,
the largest gas field in the world, shared by Iran and Qatar. The
Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline - if it's ever built - would solidify a
predominantly Shi'ite axis through an economic, steel umbilical cord.
Qatar, on the other hand, would rather build its pipeline in a non-"Shi'ite
crescent" way, with Jordan as a destination; exports would leave from the
Gulf of Aqaba to the Gulf of Suez and then to the Mediterranean. That would
be the ideal plan B as negotiations with Baghdad become increasingly
complicated (plus the fact the route across Iraq and Turkey is much longer).
Washington - and arguably European customers - would be more than pleased
with a crucial Pipelineistan gambit bypassing the Islamic Gas Pipeline.
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
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
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
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 noticed 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 binding 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.