The Persian Gulf states - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE and Oman are often combined under this name. Sometimes, these states are also called "Arabian" or "oil monarchies." They themselves prefer the term "Gulf States", and for them (as for all the Arabs) that Gulf is Arab, not Persian.
Recently these countries have often been mentioned in connection with the Syrian conflict. "The Gulf States" actively intervene in what is happening, supporting the Syrian opposition, particularly Islamist groups such as Dzhabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. As a rule, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are referred to as the most ardent opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Both countries operate through intermediaries - Saudi Arabia provides militants training and weapons transit through Jordan, and Qatar is engaged in similar activities in Turkey.
But the relations between the parties of this union are not so smooth as it seems at first glance. The main problem is different positions of Saudi Arabia and Qatar regarding the support of the Syrian armed opposition. The Saudi kingdom initially supported the Free Syrian Army, which united deserters from the government forces, and the Syrian National Council, which became the basis for the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. However, during the armed conflict that part of the insurgents was increasingly losing control of the situation, unwittingly giving the lead to radicals and Islamists. Such a change in the nature of the onflict somewhat puzzled both the Syrians and the international community. But the regional players were not slow to take advantage of new opportunities.
Qatar, which actively supports the Muslim Brotherhood Islamists, quickly organized the supplies of heavy weapons destined not for the Free Army but for the rebels of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and other Islamist groups through Turkey. This move significantly exacerbated the rivalry for regional leadership between the two monarchies.
Without stopping the political and economic confrontation, the two countries also exchanged harsh statements against each other. In August this year, the head of the General Intelligence of Saudi Arabia, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, speaking of Qatar, wryly noted, "three hundred people and a television channel is not a country", referring to the Arab news company Al Jazeera, which is based in Doha, and the small population of Qatar. In his turn, the Qatari foreign minister Khalid al-Atiyah was not in debt, saying that "one Qatari is worth a whole country."
Besides the Syrian conflict, Qatar and Saudi Arabia also have different positions regarding the change of Egyptian leadership. Qatar in every way welcomed the coming to power of the Muslim Brotherhood led by Mohammed Morsi, and the Saudi Arabia supported the Egyptian military that removed him. Almost immediately after the Chief of Armed Forces of Egypt Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi announced Mursi's removal from power, Cairo received $ 5 billion from Saudi Arabia. In addition to that, the assistance to Egypt was provided by the UAE and Kuwait. It is significant that Qatar preferred to stay away.
Despite this, the Egyptian crisis is far from being resolved - investments alone are not enough for all the Egyptians to be able to come to a compromise. A political solution is required, and therefore it is cooperation that is necessary, not competition. At the same time, neither Qatar nor Saudi Arabia is ready to give up their own ambitions and move to a dialogue.
Moreover, in an effort to strengthen their influence Qatar and Saudi Arabia prefer to ignore the fact that the Syrian opposition is unable to form an effective representative body, which would express the interests of all opposition groups. Repeating that Assad must leave, the rebels do not bring closer his military defeat, and the opposition is not ready for a political solution to the crisis, which was confirmed by the Syrian National Council's refusal to participate in the Geneva-2 peace conference.
At the moment all the participants of this race for the leadership are losing out - but it does not seem to stop them.