“Secretary Tillerson Participates in a Joint Press Conference in Qatar. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson participates in a joint press conference with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Doha, Qatar on July……….” US State Department
” KUWAIT CITY — The United States and Qatar signed a memo of understanding Tuesday on steps the tiny Persian Gulf nation will take to stop the funding of terrorism, U.S. officials said Tuesday. The agreement aims to encourage Qatar’s neighbors to abandon their embargo on the country. The memo was announced in the Qatar capital of Doha, where Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spent the day working to resolve a regional feud that the United States fears could derail efforts to fight groups like the Islamic State and could embolden Iran…….” N Y Times
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson started this trip in Kuwait, the only Gulf GCC country that could mediate, given its long experience in trying, often hopelessly, to mediate Arab disputes. Oman is another possible sane GCC member, but the Omanis have kept their distance from clashes between the ruling families of the Gulf.
From Kuwait Tillerson went to Qatar, reportedly for a tri-partite American-Qatari-Kuwait meeting. From Qatar he will fly to Saudi Arabia. Tillerson’s statements seem to be quite critical of the Saudi-UAE claims and demands. Politely he seems to point out the absurdity of their demands.
But this whole project is almost like Fake News. The claims and 13 demands of Saudi Arabia and the UAE were based on a combination of elements of the real policies of Qatar and on the skillful use of Fake News by the Saudis and Emiratis. At some point all these states supported terrorist activities, especially in Iraq and Syria. The September 11 terrorist attacks of 2001 had no Qatari involvement. ISIS ranks have many Saudis and Bahrainis, but I have never seen a Qatari name.
The Saudi-UAE demands of Qatar were no doubt inspired by Donald Trump’s visit to Riyadh in May and his later tweets. The heavy use of the term “terrorism” was a clever attempt to shift the topic away from the Saudi roots of Jihadism and to use two terms that resonate with American politicians. Qatar was charged with supporting “terrorism” and with moving close to “Iran“: nothing makes Americans politicians salivate more than these two terms, except maybe the term “campaign money“.
The Qataris and Iranians share one of the largest natural gas fields in the world, in the waters of the Persian Gulf, so they need to keep some cordial ties. Besides, Oman and Kuwait keep cordial relations with the mullahs in Iran, and nobody among the Saudi-UAE potentates has criticized them, not yet.
The whole “GCC crisis” is odd and relies heavily on Fake News. The demands presented to Qatar by the Saudi-UAE side are vague, and they are absurd to present to a sovereign country. Especially the deman of closing the AlJazeera News Network. Even though Qatar has dabbled in supporting Jihadis in Syria, so did Saudi Arabia (in Syria and Iraq), probably even more so.
And as if to add some weight to their demands, the Saudi-UAE side recruited Egypt’s hapless dictator Field Marshall Al Sisi, possibly as a military muscleman. Almost laughable, given the underachieving military history of modern Egypt.
Now it seems that, in spite of Donald Trump, Tillerson may have managed to convey the real American position on this issue. Trump was no doubt moved by the accolades and the flattery he received at the Riyadh Summit in May, (did I leave the promised billions of dollars?). Now it looks like there is consensus that the Saudi-UAE attempt has failed to destabilize Qatar. This is not the first Saudi failure in Qatar, there was an attempted coup in the late 1990s.
There is another Arab state where the Saudis under King Salman and his son are facing even worse failure: perhaps Rex Tillerson can help extricate the princes from the quagmire of the Yemen war they foolishly started two and a half years ago.
Mpohammed Haider Ghuloum