In Brief

Qatar’s leader in the US for talks on Gulf crisis

Can Donald Trump help negotiate an end to the diplomatic spat that has dragged on for nearly a year?

Donald Trump is due to host the Emir of Qatar later today in a bid to resolve the Gulf crisis that has pitted key US allies against each other.

Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani’s visit to the White House comes weeks after his regional rival, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, sat down with the US President for similar talks.

Washington has an important and long-standing relationship with both Gulf states, says Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra.

“It has been trying to broker a deal but there’s been no breakthrough so far, raising fears of further instability in the region,” he adds.

The dispute began last June when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and travel ties with Qatar.

The Saudi-led bloc accuses Doha of supporting Islamist extremists and of being too close to its regional rival Iran, allegations Qatar has always strongly denied.

The Trump administration has sent mixed signals about whom it supports in the crisis, Krishnadev Calamur writes for The Atlantic.

“Even as [former] Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis urged all sides to work out their differences, Trump tweeted that Qatar was supporting terrorism,” he says.

The President has since softened his rhetoric, reportedly at the advice of Tillerson, who argued that good relations were needed to maintain a united front against Iran and protect US military bases in Qatar.

But Tillerson’s firing, the arrival of John Bolton as national security adviser and Mike Pompeo’s transfer to the State Department are likely to complicate matters, Simon Henderson, director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, writes for The Hill.

And while relations between Qatar and the US are warming, there are “few public signs” the Gulf dispute is even close to being resolved, Calamur says.

“Abu Dhabi and the Saudis had hoped to cause Qatar the kind of economic pain and diplomatic isolation that would force it to make concessions,” he argues. “That didn’t happen—and those countries don’t appear to have a Plan B.”

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