Pompeo urges Doha to resolve Gulf crisis before Camp David summit
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’