Who is Trump really siding with in Qatar’s crisis?

Trump wants the rift healed to restore unity among Gulf countries and present a united front against Iran (Reuters)

All said and done, US President Donald Trump appears coming to a realization that the solution to Qatar crisis lies not in Washington but in Riyadh. according to analysts in Washington and in the Gulf region.

This has become evident following recent sequence of events triggered by the visit of Qatari Emir to Washington and Trump’s phone calls to Gulf leaders.

It is important to note that Qatar has been taking steps to address US concerns on support to terror. The country even allowed Treasury Department officials into its central bank to improve accountability for controls to prevent terror funding.

During the visit, Qatar’s Emir Tamim told reporters in the Oval Office: “We do not and we will not tolerate with people who fund terrorism. We’ve been cooperating with the United States of America to stop funding terrorism around the region.”

He even looked desperate in affirming that “we do not tolerate the people who support and fund terrorism,” before repeating his plea to the US president to be involved in finding a solution to the Gulf crisis.

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Qatari and some western newspapers has said that Trump “reversed almost completely,” from all but accusing Qatar of funding terrorism in June 2017 to “publicly thanking” Tamim for Qatar’s support in countering terrorism in January 2018.

Many saw this as a triumph for the US sacked FM Rex Tillerson’s painstaking diplomatic approach.

However other experts see in this a triumph for Saudi Arabia and UAE which their actions forced Doha to obey at least some parts of their requests such us implementing an internal control system within its institutions.

Call to Riyadh

Some Qatari related media outlets mixed regular phone calls with leaders in the region and linked them with Tamim’s recent meeting with Trump.

In a telephone call earlier this month with GCC leaders, President Trump demanded that all the crisis parties, quickly end a nearly year-old dispute between the main forces in the region and Qatar that has left US allies in the region fractured.

The fact remains that Trump regularly calls all GCC leaders to convey the same message.

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Trump wants the rift healed to restore unity among Gulf countries and present a united front against Iran, an official who requested anonymity, was quoted by some media outlets.

Some reports claimed that Trump’s tone about the crisis was described by one official as “forceful.”  They also claimed that Trump’s demand for swift action to end the rift represents a shift in his position.

A second official, was quoted, by some media outlets, as insisting that the rift within the GCC be patched up within three weeks, in part because of a looming decision on Iran.

A written White House readout of Trump’s phone call with the GCC leaders said the president “emphasized the importance of resolving the Gulf dispute and restoring a united Gulf Cooperation Council to counter Iranian malign influence and defeat terrorists and extremists.”

However, contrary to the perception built through these reports, the readouts of all Trump’s discussions with all leaders, do not recount any “tough tone” neither do they describe a US deadline for resolving the dispute.

One expert even said: “Nothing can prove that Trump is taking Qatar’s side. What appears to US as neutrality is in fact an implementation of the GCC vision by keeping the solution under the Saudi discretion as usual.”

The UAE’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Anwar al-Gargash, has emphasized many times, with many other Arab officials, that it has become very clear that the matter on Qatar solving its crisis is a Gulf one. Their gateway to the solution is Riyadh, they added.

The expert added: “From my perception, Trump was just trying, in a very verbal diplomatic way, to refer the whole issue to the place where it should be resolved, Saudi Arabia.”

Shifting the Camp David time frame to September buys the White House time. During Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Washington, the Saudis made it clear they would not accept external mediation and would resolve the crisis within a regional framework instead.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:52 - GMT 06:52
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