Crisis at impasse as Qatar refuses to accept demands
WASHINGTON — The Donald Trump administration is being drawn further into the crisis engulfing Qatar and many of its Gulf Arab neighbors, a diplomatic tussle that it wanted to avoid.
Despite numerous US appeals for Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt to resolve their issues with Qatar on their own, the State Department said on Thursday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would visit the region next week in a bid to mediate a solution.
Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tillerson would visit Kuwait, which has been trying to broker an agreement, on Monday after stops in Ukraine and Turkey. She said Tillerson would meet with Kuwaiti officials, but his presence in the region leaves open the possibility that he may try to shuttle between the neighboring countries to forge a resolution.
The four nations cut off diplomatic ties to Qatar a month ago, accusing the tiny nation of funding terrorism and spreading unrest. Qatar has refused to comply in whole with a list of demands from its neighbors.
The United States has been supporting Kuwait’s mediation efforts, but Tillerson’s trip will mark a new level of US involvement in trying to broker a resolution.
Earlier on Thursday, Nauert warned that the crisis may not be quickly resolved.
“We’ve become increasing- ly concerned that dispute is at an impasse at this point,” she said. “We believe that this could potentially drag on for weeks; it could drag on for months; it could possibly even intensify.”
She didn’t specify what type of escalation the US fears.
The four Arab states on Friday confirmed Doha’s “intransigence and rejection” to any settlement, Al Arabiya news reported.
In a joint statement, the Arab quartet, led by Saudi Arabia, said the intransigence of Qatar “reflects their association with terrorist organizations and their continued attempts to sabotage and undermine security and stability in the region”.
The statement added that they stress “that Doha has thwarted all efforts and diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis,” UAE’s state news agency WAM reported.
The response was handed to Kuwait, which acts as a mediator of the crisis.
The four countries also deplore Qatar’s lack of tact and respect for the diplomatic principles toward the Kuwaiti efforts, as it leaked the list of demands, compromising the mediation efforts.
Those countries are expected to announce more sanctions and actions against Qatar during the meeting expected in Bahrain.