The Saudi blockade against Qatar has been swift, with the small nation effectively cut off from the rest of the world over the course of a few days. Details are still scarce, and there have been conflicting reports given for the reasoning behind the actions being taken. As it stands currently, there is no movement being allowed in or out of the nation, and all sea lanes have been cut off. This has given rise to feelings of panic in the local population, and people have been lining up to buy groceries.

According to Bloomberg, Kuwait is acting as an intermediary between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and an ultimatum of ten demands has been delivered to the Royal Family in Qatar.

The interactions that are being facilitated by Kuwait are secret, but some of the demands have been made public.

Saudi Arabia has apparently told Qatar that The Muslim Brotherhood must be declared as a terrorist organization, and any ties with both Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood must be cut immediately. Qatar has been once of the few gulf states to support The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and this has always created friction between Qatar and the Saudis.

Gas money

On the face of it this conflict appears to relate to terrorism, but there may be more in play than meets the eye. Qatar is rich because of its wealth of natural gas, and is one of the largest exporters in the world. While most of the middle east was blessed with petroleum, Qatar was given the North Field.

The North Field is the worlds largest known reserve of natural gas, and is the reason why Qatar has a per capita income of $130,000 dollars. While this gas has made the Qataris wealthy, it has also created tensions in the region. The Qatari royals are reluctant to sell their gas into the neighboring Arab states, and this has been a touchy subject.

The North Field is also shared with Iran, which has given rise to some conflicts. Many believe that Hamas is little more than an arm of the Iranian intelligence service, though this is likely a simplistic view of the group.

Next move

Regardless of the underlying political drama, it is clear that Saudi Arabia is no longer willing to use subtle tactics.

Some analysts cited by Bloomberg raise the possibility of military action against Qatar, but the presence of the US Fifth Fleet Headquarters in Doha make this very tricky.

Another factor may be influencing this unfolding situation, and that is Qatar's recent multi-billion dollar investment in Russian state oil company Rosneft. It is difficult to say how the US and Saudi Arabia interpret this pivot, but given the situation in Syria there may be more to the Saudi blockade than funding for groups that aren't simple terrorist organizations.