The Gulf crisis

The 11-month old Gulf crisis is continuing and it has not been included as a topic on the agenda of the recent meeting of the Arab League states.
Most analysts and diplomats in the region agree that the trade and diplomatic embargo on Qatar initiated by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates was to the detriment of all. Its main cause was the fact that Saudi Arabia resented Qatar’s involvement in regional conflicts, its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Doha-based broadcaster Al Jazeera, as well as Qatar’s role in the Arab Spring uprisings, when the Saudi royals feared their own powers could come under threat.
While these differences could have been resolved with diplomacy, Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and his counterpart in Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, chose to escalate the dispute into another crisis that the Middle East does not need.
According to regional analysts, the crisis between Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE is beginning to have the features of an “arms race”, more and more expensive for each one of the parties involved.
While Saudi, as well as Qatari opinions indicate that President Trump wishes for a solution to end the crisis, hints received from the Saudi Embassy in Washington suggest that the “Gulf File” is currently not among the priorities of the U.S. Administration.
Also, because of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, influential senators have begun to discuss restrictions on arms sales to Saudi Arabia. That would undercut other administration priorities, including attempts to get the Saudis to play a more active role in the region.
At the end of April, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Riyadh – in his first overseas trip in his new position – and told the Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel al-Jubeir, that the dispute needs to end. However, his statements about a united Gulf to help in confronting Iran’s nuclear deal have not changed the premises on the ground. The State Secretary left it to the Gulf countries and Egypt to address the crisis.
On the other hand, the Qatari emirate – the richest nation per capita in the world – not only resisted the embargo, but it also resisted the temptation to retaliate. Instead, in the nearly 11 months since the embargo began, Qatar has undertaken a considerable lobbying effort that resulted in the U.S. visit, earlier in April, of Qatari leader, Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. The Emir had an Oval Office meeting with President Trump during which the president expressed strong support for the country.
The U.S. President also has offered to host a Camp David summit in September and it is expected that the disputing parties use the months before to start looking for a solution to this unneeded conflict. Also, the countries that imposed, on June 5 2017, the embargo on Qatar (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt) indicated that the crisis will be addressed only through a Gulf perspective.

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