The United States State Department on Tuesday issued a rare public warning to ally Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on their isolation of Qatar, suggesting that the two countries may have provoked a crisis and drawn the US into the conflict on “false pretences”, The Washington Post reported. State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said the administration was “mystified” that two weeks after cutting ties with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have not provided a list of their grievances.
“The more time that goes by, the more doubt is raised about the actions taken by Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” Nauert said. “At this point, we are left with one simple question: Were the actions really about their concerns over Qatar’s alleged support for terrorism, or were they about the long-simmering grievances between Gulf Cooperation Council countries?”
US President Donald Trump had visited Saudi Arabia in May and lavished the country’s government with praise. Shortly after, the kingdom cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar. Trump had praised the move on Twitter and reiterated his praise at a press conference on June 9.
However, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had called for mediation and a quick resolution of the dispute, given that Qatar, too, is a close military ally of the US. On the same day as Trump’s press conference, Tillerson had asked reporters to the State Department to read a prepared statement, calling for the Qatar blockade to be eased.
Last week, Mattis had hosted Qatar’s defence minister to finalise a $12-billion sale of 36 F-16 fighter jets. The navies of the US and Qatar also participated in a joint exercise. Tillerson has devoted more than 20 calls and meetings to help solve the crisis, but now sees little room for mediation, Nauert said. She added that he now wants “results”.
Saudi King upends succession, appoints son as heir
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, early on Wednesday, appointed his son Mohammed bin Salman as heir to the throne, reported Al Jazeera. Upending the royal succession line, a decree removed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the king’s 57-year-old nephew, as next-in-line to the throne and replaced him with Mohammed bin Salman. Salman was also appointed deputy prime minister of the country.