U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that his ties with Qatar were working “extremely well” as he welcomed Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to the White House for bilateral talks, Reuters reported.
Qatari Emir told reporters the region could not tolerate “a war criminal” like Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and he said the region cannot accept people who support terrorism. The two leaders spoke as the U.S. prepares to respond to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria.
President Trump meet with Qatar’s emir in the second step of a planned three-part diplomatic push to resolve a bitter dispute in the Persian Gulf region. The crisis erupted in June 2017 when Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (plus Egypt) severed diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar.
According to The Washington Post the U.S.-led reconciliation process had laid out a carefully sequenced set of meetings. Trump was to meet separately with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, in addition to the Qatari emir. U.S. officials hoped these three bilateral meetings would lay the groundwork for gulf leaders to meet in Kuwait at the end of April to settle their differences before a planned summit at Camp David in May.
Video credit: www.reuters.com
That plan now lies in tatters! Mohammed bin Salman’s highly publicized visit to the United States produced little sign of movement. Mohammed bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi declined to visit the White House as originally planned on March 27. The Camp David summit has been postponed until September. What happened? And what happens next?
Qatar has responded to the crisis by strengthening its relationship with the United States. Qatar became the first Persian Gulf country to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States on counter terrorism and convened a Qatar-U.S. strategic dialogue. These measures built upon Trump’s call at the Riyadh summit for closer defense and U.S. and gulf security ties.
The standoff in the region has polarized opinions in the region and in Washington. The failure of the Trump administration’s sequential mediation has illustrated the lack of interest in bringing it to an end through a negotiated settlement. With Camp David unlikely to happen, the chances that the dispute becomes permanent just got a lot higher.
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