Saudi Arabia, UAE welcome Trump's warning to Qatar

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will today hold talks with his Qatari counterpart Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

This is why so many pundits regard the Saudi action against Qatar as the final nail in the coffin and an attempt to kill Qatar's independent and ambitious foreign policy objectives.

The diplomatic crisis, the worst since the 1990 invasion of Kuwait by Iraq and the subsequent Gulf War, has seen Arab nations and others cut ties to Qatar, which hosts a major US military base and will be the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

In a sharp contrast to Trump's tone and messaging, Tillerson called on Gulf nations to de-escalate the crisis with Qatar.

It wasn't immediately clear how Trump's sharp condemnation might affect US cooperation with Qatar, which hosts some 10,000 USA troops and a major US air base that serves as a staging ground for operations in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

His comments Friday firmly positioned Washington in the camp of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which severed ties with Qatar this week and accused it of sponsoring terrorism. Qatar denies the allegations.

The ongoing diplomatic crisis in Qatar will cause "irreparable reputational damage" to the Gulf as a location for university branch campuses, according to an expert on the region. Still, Jordan will suffer by joining the growing isolation of Qatar for it also means cutting its own economic hide, since Qatar is a major employer of Jordanian expat labor; this could mean 50,000 or so Jordanian workers either stranded in Qatar without work or suddenly expelled from Qatar, thus further inflaming the crisis.

That is even after Kuwait's emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah flew to Qatar to discuss the crisis with officials.

In a Wednesday phone call with the Qatari Emir, Trump extended an olive branch, offering to help the parties resolve their differences with a White House meeting if necessary, and offered the services of Tillerson as a mediator. In the wake of Trump's trip to the Middle East last month, four U.S. Arab allies took steps to isolate Qatar over its ties to Iran and support of Islamist groups.

The base and the 11,000 military personnel stationed on it are key resources in the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Shi'ite Muslim Iran blamed Sunni arch-rival Saudi Arabia for the attack, which was claimed by the Sunni Islamic State militant group.

Turkey, which works closely with Qatar in the energy sector, has walked a fine line between defending Qatar and abstaining from openly antagonising Saudi Arabia. The agreement did not detail a timeframe or the number of troops.

-Iran and Qatar jointly share the world's largest gas field, and have cooperated on its development. Unlike members such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Qatar does not criticize Tehran for its foreign policies.

A top United Arab Emirates official on Wednesday told AFP that the unprecedented measures were aimed at pressuring Doha into making drastic policy changes. The second is that Qatar is not seen to have backed away from Hamas, the Palestinian Liberation Front which has stood up to Israel insisting on a two-state solution which would see the peaceful co-existence, of the Israeli and Palestinian states. "We need to put everything in check".

Apart from this, Doha-based news outlet Al Jazeera has been criticized by several Middle Eastern countries.

Gargash said "not using the formidable media ownership in promoting an extremist agenda" was a condition for negotiations.

The move comes after the country banned any direct flights to and from Qatar, and also closed down the offices of Qatar Airways across the UAE.

  • Julie Sanders