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The diplomatic machinations that have enveloped Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar may seem like a membership feud in a Gulf club for the wealthy. But their quarrel highlights battles that have been roiling the Middle East since the Arab Spring began nearly seven years ago.The boycott against Qatar announced last month by the Saudis, Emiratis, Bahrainis and Egyptians took the Trump administration by surprise – and triggered a mediation effort this week by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The Saudis' and Emiratis' basic problem is that they find Qatar a meddlesome and untrustworthy neighbor.For Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Qatar feels like a thorn in the side, much as Cuba did for the United States for more than 50 years.The Gulf Arabs responded by squeezing Qatar to protect their flanks. The secret November 2013 agreement came just five months after a coup ousting the Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi in Egypt, and after Iran signed a framework nuclear agreement. The Saudis privately concede that they acted unilaterally because they didn't have GCC consensus.
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