Tillerson cancels trip to Mexico to work on Qatar crisis

Tillerson cancels trip to Mexico to work on Qatar crisis

The showdown in the Persian Gulf over the tiny emirate of Qatar is now well into its second week.

Four Arab states - Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt - severed diplomatic and trade relations with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting "extremism" and their regional rival Iran. During Mr. Trump's recent visit to Riyadh, he made a point of telling reporters during a photo spray with the Qatari emir that he was going to sell Qatar "big lovely weapons".

He said the Qatari government is providing Al Jazeera with extensive financial support, stressing that to restore cordial relations with Riyadh, Doha is required to fully suspend it. Ambassadors and diplomats have been withdrawn.

But Trump's instinct was to side with the Saudis and Emiratis. Al Udeid Air Base is home to more than 11,000 US and coalition troops. But its cutoff air travel routes remain problematic. The Qatari public has rallied in a show of nationalist defiance.

There is also the question of what will replace Hamas if depriving Hamas of Qatari money and preventing Doha from being used as a home for Hamas's political leadership will lead to a Hamas collapse. "I will stay loyal to the people who support us now". Qatar also hosts the largest United States airbase in the region, in part to guard against Saudi Arabia.

Pentagon and State Department officials have since scrambled to reassure the emirate, which hosts the largest u.s. airbase in the Middle East and the command headquarters for operations in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. He's equally familiar with Saudi and UAE leaders.

This raised eyebrows for quite a few reasons.

"Everything depends on how long Qatar will insist on its stance, and how much it would cave in [to Saudi demands]".

Doha says it has a sovereign right to pursue its foreign policy and has sought to internationalise the issue. "All of these countries have questionable records on human rights, and some have distinguished themselves as incubators of extremism". Military operations in Afghanistan and the Middle East are planned and executed from there.

Qatar denies the allegations but its ties to Iran and embrace of various Islamist groups have put the country under intense scrutiny.

Oil dips on concern over rising U.S. output, OPEC tensions
Last year OPEC announced a momentous deal between its member nations and some non-OPEC producers to reduce their oil output. OPEC on May 25 agreed to extend a 1.2 million barrel per day production cut for nine months through March 2018.

Trump, however, has been taking a more enthusiastic, anti-Doha tone. From the onset of the crisis, both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis counseled conciliation, not confrontation.

Speaking on Qatar's $12bn deal with the U.S. to buy F-15 fighter jets, Cavusoglu said "just like other country, like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt.it is natural for Qatar to buy airplanes or parts necessary for its own defence".

France, Britain are encouraging the two sides to hold discussions.

. Trump's statements have not helped.

The State Department describes this sale as fermenting US efforts to "strengthen the security and defense architecture of the region".

To achieve an early-term masterstroke of foreign policy acumen, Trump will not find success in playing the conventional role, but in playing wei qi.

U.A.E. Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash last week called for "cooler heads" in Qatar, but said its neighbors were not seeking regime change. Well, that may have to do with the fact that the US has the largest military post in the region.

A lawmaker called on officials to be cautious in their interaction with Qatar in the wake of the worsening Arab crisis, saying that it would be wrong "to get emotional".

While President Trump berates Qatar for sponsoring terrorism at the highest levels, he is simultaneously authorizing the country to purchase over $21 billion of USA weapons. "A further escalation would serve nobody".

As I wrote this month, the outgoing US ambassador to Qatar briefed participants in a policy conference in Washington on progress Qatar has made in cracking down on terror financing, a view that is not shared by the Treasury Department or experts inside the intelligence community. The heavy-handed approach of the Saudis and Emiratis, he said, is a risky "Trumpization" of regional affairs.

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