Trump’s Plan to End Qatar-Saudi Arabia Deadlock Fails
President Trump’s plan to de-escalate the tensions between Saudi Arabia and Qatar ended in failure this week after the two countries released conflicting statements hours after a phone call organized by Trump.
The New York Times reported on Saturday that a phone call late Friday between the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, was meant to find common ground between the two nations. Instead, the two countries attacked each other hours later in the media over which country capitulated and agreed to peace negotiations first.
“The problem is as much about appearing to not capitulate to the other side as it is trying to solve any problems,” Michael Stephens of the Royal United Services Institute told the Times.
“Given the hypersensitivity of both sides to appearing weak,” he added, “it makes the problem considerably harder to solve.”
Trump himself seemed to hint that he was favoring Saudi Arabia in the negotiations on Thursday in comments at the White House, saying that “massive funding of terrorism by certain countries” was still a huge problem. Trump has accused the country of sponsoring terrorism in the region in the past.
“If they don’t stop the funding of terrorism, I don’t want them to come together,” he added.
Trump called the two leaders separately on Friday, urging them to work together to end terrorism in the region and work with the United States to counter Iran’s influence.
Unity among the Arab nations “is essential to promoting regional stability and countering the threat of Iran,” read a White House read out of the calls.
Trump “also emphasized that all countries must follow through on commitments from the Riyadh Summit to defeat terrorism, cut off funding for terrorist groups, and combat extremist ideology,” it added.