U.S. sig­nals im­pa­tience with Arabs over Qatar

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD - BY MATTHEW LEE

In a dra­matic shift, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion on Tues­day de­manded that Saudi Ara­bia and other Arab coun­tries boy­cotting Qatar de­tail their com­plaints about the small Per­sian Gulf monar­chy’s sup­port for ex­trem­ism and reach a speedy res­o­lu­tion to the diplo­matic cri­sis.

The com­ments sug­gested that Secretary of State Rex Tiller­son was los­ing pa­tience in a me­di­a­tion at­tempt, an ef­fort to patch up a dam­ag­ing split among key U.S. al­lies in the re­gion.

The State Depart­ment said it was “mys­ti­fied” that Saudi Ara­bia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emi­rates had not yet made clear their claims against Qatar or what they want to end the block­ade an­nounced ear­lier this month. Us­ing the word “em­bargo” sev­eral times, spokes­woman Heather Nauert also ques­tioned if the ac­tions were a re­sponse to Qatari sup­port for ex­trem­ism, as the Saudis and oth­ers claim, or re­flect other ten­sions.

“Now that it’s been more than two weeks since the em­bargo started, we are mys­ti­fied that the Gulf States have not re­leased to the pub­lic nor to the Qataris, the de­tails about the claims that they are mak­ing to­ward Qatar,” she told re­porters. “The more the time goes by, the more doubt is raised about the ac­tions taken by Saudi Ara­bia and the UAE.”

“At this point we are left with one sim­ple ques­tion,” Ms. Nauert added. “Were the ac­tions re­ally about their con­cerns re­gard­ing Qatar’s al­leged sup­port for ter­ror­ism or were they about the long-sim­mer­ing griev­ances?”

Ms. Nauert noted that Mr. Tiller­son had held more than 20 phone calls and in-per­son meet­ings with se­nior of­fi­cials from the coun­tries in­volved since the cri­sis erupted ear­lier this month. Mr. Tiller­son also can­celed a sched­uled trip to an Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States meeting this week in Mex­ico to work the Qatar cri­sis. He will re­main en­gaged, Ms. Nauert said, but wants re­sults.

The Qatari for­eign min­is­ter is ex­pected to come to Wash­ing­ton next week to dis­cuss the cri­sis. Ms. Nauert called on all par­ties to fight ter­ror­ism and meet com­mit­ments they made when Pres­i­dent Trump vis­ited Saudi Ara­bia last month.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has sent mixed sig­nals on the long-run­ning quar­rel that broke out be­tween Qatar and other Gulf Arab states. Mr. Trump on Twit­ter sug­gested the move was a fruit of his re­cent trip to the re­gion, ap­pear­ing to side with Saudi Ara­bia and other states that the move was a drive by Mus­lim states them­selves to pu­n­ish states that un­der­write ter­ror­ism.

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