It’s no surprise that US President Donald Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. What’s actually a surprise is that Trump, who is famous for his frankness and outburst of emotions, waited for over a year before firing him.
Everyone knows that Tillerson did not see eye to eye with Trump in terms of several important matters such as the nuclear deal with Iran, the affair with North Korea and how to deal with Russia and of course Qatar. In addition to his differences with Trump, Tillerson also had his differences with other significant officials such as the CIA director, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, the national security advisor and the US ambassador at the UN.
For us, it’s important to have good relations with all the pillars of the state as long as our stances are close to the president’s. Unfortunately, the record of the Department of State during Tillerson’s tenure did not reflect the spirit of the White HouseAbdulrahman al-Rashed
Is the US Secretary of State important and efficient within a system headed by a strong president like Trump and his aides? The US is a state of institutions and the Department of State and the Secretary of State have a major executive role. When the White House devises policies and adopts stances, it leaves the details to executive institutions. The minister is thus an important official as he’s like an advanced knight on a chessboard. He is out there to compete with others and he must achieve victories!
Importance of Arab-US relations
For us, it’s important to have good relations with all the pillars of the state as long as our stances are close to the president’s. Unfortunately, the record of the Department of State during Tillerson’s tenure did not reflect the spirit of the White House and its policies regarding major matters such as those related to Iran.
Many of the former administration’s decisions are still in effect regarding Iran, for example, the Department of State still refrains from supporting the Iranian opposition and its programs against the Iranian regime, although Trump voices his support of solid support of the opposition!
Mike Pompeo, who has been selected to replace Tillerson, has a good education and a good record in how to deal with several matters as he managed the most important secret apparatus in the world, the CIA. The US is an essential part of our major issues, from confronting the Iranian expansion to dealing with the Syrian crisis and the war in Yemen. This is in addition to other permanent matters like the conflict with Israel and terrorism.
Tillerson and Qatar
Relations with Washington are very important to us whether in terms of sharing intelligence data, making military deals and issuing UN Security Council resolutions or blocking them. This relation cannot be simplified by saying it’s valued by trade deals and military contracts. There has been an eternal conflict in Washington between world powers regarding who will sway the US administration to his side. The reason we suffered with the former administration is that it refused to sell us arms and ammunition while we were in middle of a dangerous war.
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What about Qatar whose name has been attached to the isolated minister Tillerson? It is only a part of the dispute with him, but it’s not the whole issue. What Qatar is going through represents a crisis for it alone, not for its neighbors. It’s not a case like Yemen or Libya. The dispute with Qatar may be resolved this year or not, and it may take years. There’s no rush to finalize it as long as it’s a political dispute where no blood is shed. Doha must realize that Tillerson, who was close to it, was of no benefit to it, and that it is the one that actually harmed him.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.