At a speech in Washington Thursday, Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani hailed the “invaluable efforts” of U.S. Secretary of State Rex #Tillerson in seeking to resolve the diplomatic crisis threatening to unravel one of the few stable corners of the Arab world.
But conspicuously absent in the Qatari minister’s remarks was Tillerson’s boss, President #Trump.
We’re now in the fourth week of a Saudi- and Emirati-led blockade of Qatar that Trump has loudly supported. The Persian Gulf states have justified the move as a way to punish Doha for its alleged support of Islamist militancy, its perceived coziness with Iran and the subversive rhetoric of the Qatari-funded Al Jazeera news channel. Qatar, which hosts the largest American military base in the Middle East, has had to build new supply chains for food and other goods with the help of countries like Turkey, Iran and Oman.
“We were surprised and frankly shocked by these measures, and considered them unwarranted and unjustified,” said al-Thani of the blockade.
In theory, his government is supposed to meet a deadline next week whereby, among other actions, it would have to shutter Al Jazeera; kick out Turkish troops hosted on Qatari soil; sever what links they have to Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as Iran; and submit themselves to regular auditing by Gulf neighbors. Qatar has so far refused to accede to any of the demands.