The worst political crisis among Middle Eastern Gulf countries in decades is escalating despite US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s plea for reason and caution. Having effectively blockaded Qatar, four Arab states have now sent a list of 13 demands to be met if sanctions are to be lifted. Amongst them that broadcaster Al Jazeera is shut down; ties with Iran to be reduced and a Turkish military base closed – all within 10 days. The Saudi-led allies order it to cut ties with extremist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, end the funding of terrorism, and hand over terrorists. None of which leaves much wiggle room for negotiations. Qatar, which has sought to raise its profile in recent years, denies funding terrorism and fostering instability.
Al-Jazeera, the most widely watched broadcaster in the Arab world, is seen as a propaganda tool for Islamists that undermines support for other governments in the region. It launched on 1 November 1996, with a Scorpio Sun Mercury square Uranus, with Uranus conjunct Neptune – keen on upsetting the status quo, determined. Reforming/revolutionary Uranus is also on the focal point of a mini-Grand Trine from a resilient, tough-minded Saturn trine Pluto. It does have a fairly afflicted Mars in Virgo square Pluto and quincunx Saturn, so was always going to arouse anger and hostility. The road ahead looks exceptionally bumpy as tr Uranus this year squares the AlJ Neptune, moving to square Uranus in 2018, along with an uphill-struggle tr Pluto conjunct Sun/Saturn. Where it looks more likely to come to a halt will be around 2019/2020 with Solar Arc Sun conjunct Pluto, then square Mars, and Solar Arc Saturn square Neptune.
The AlJ Pluto square Mars sits squarely on the Qatar Neptune opposition Saturn square Sun, so it was always going to prove a headache of migraine proportions. But the relationship chart between Qatar and AlJ has a chained-together composite Saturn opposition Pluto, so won’t be easily let go. Though the ties that bind will get a severe shaking through 2018/19 as tr Uranus is opposition the Pluto and then conjunct Saturn.