Pom­peo urges Doha to re­solve Gulf cri­sis be­fore Camp David sum­mit

The National - News - - NEWS - JOYCE KARAM

United States Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo is in­ten­si­fy­ing Wash­ing­ton’s efforts to end the Qatar dis­pute as it ap­proaches its one-year mark on June 5.

Mr Pom­peo called his Qatari coun­ter­part on Wed­nes­day, say­ing he wanted “the dis­pute eased and even­tu­ally re­solved, [be­cause] it ben­e­fits Iran”.

The State Depart­ment said Mr Pom­peo spoke to Qatari Foreign Min­is­ter Mo­hammed bin Ab­dul­rah­man Al Thani, and “reaf­firmed US com­mit­ment to work­ing with all of our GCC part­ners to en­sure des­ig­na­tions are fully en­forced and that our part­ners’ fi­nan­cial sys­tems are not ex­ploited by ter­ror­ists and il­licit ac­tors”.

Af­ter the Arab Quar­tet boy­cotted Qatar, Doha took steps to des­ig­nate ter­ror­ist en­ti­ties and to curb ter­ror­ist fi­nanc­ing.

Mr Pom­peo’s em­pha­sis on Iran fol­lows the US with­drawal from the nu­clear deal. A se­nior US of­fi­cial told The Na­tional last week that Wash­ing­ton was look­ing for a “united front” among its Gulf part­ners in coun­ter­ing Iran.

It also fol­lows a re­port by The

Tele­graph on Sun­day, quot­ing US se­cu­rity of­fi­cials who urged Qatar to stop fund­ing pro-Ira­nian mil­i­tants. One said a “num­ber of se­nior Qatari gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials have de­vel­oped cor­dial re­la­tions with se­nior fig­ures in Iran’s Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard, as well as a num­ber of Ira­nian-spon­sored ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions”. Ac­cord­ing to The Wash­ing­ton

Post, Qatari of­fi­cials in April last year ap­peared to con­sent to pay­ments of US$275 mil­lion (Dh1.01 bil­lion) to free nine mem­bers of the royal fam­ily and 16 other Qatari na­tion­als. The pay­out re­cip­i­ents in­cluded, among oth­ers, Iran’s IRGC and Kataib Hezbol­lah in Iraq, but Doha de­nies pay­ing any ran­som to ter­ror­ist groups.

Now, as the US ap­plies more eco­nomic pres­sure on Iran, it is look­ing at joint efforts by the Gulf Co-op­er­a­tion Coun­cil to im­pose sanc­tions and min­imise trade with Tehran.

Ideally, the US would like to see the Qatar dis­pute re­solved be­fore a Camp David sum­mit planned for Septem­ber. The US wants Gulf part­ners, Jor­dan and Egypt to at­tend as one bloc.

In the in­terim, the US is look­ing at min­i­mum steps to ease the Qatar dis­pute. But for the boy­cotting states (Saudi Ara­bia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt), Doha has to take con­crete steps be­fore any eas­ing of mea­sures.

Saudi Foreign Min­is­ter Adel Al Jubeir said in Wash­ing­ton in March that Qatar would need to go back to its 2013 com­mit­ments un­der the Riyadh agree­ment. He named ter­ror­ist fi­nanc­ing, rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion, in­cite­ment and sup­port for ex­trem­ist cler­ics among a list of prob­lems with Qatar.

“We are not in a hurry,” Mr Jubeir said about end­ing the boy­cott, be­cause of the need for tan­gi­ble re­sults in curb­ing the sup­port for ex­trem­ism.

Mr Pom­peo reaf­firmed US com­mit­ment to ‘work­ing with all of our GCC part­ners’

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