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The Gulf Crisis: The U.S. Factor

The election of the U.S. President Donald Trump played a key role in reigniting the Gulf crisis. The blockading quartet (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt) took advantage of the election of a more sympathetic U.S. president to resume the 2013-2014 diplomatic crisis with Qatar, trying to get Doha to agree to their demands. However, divisions within the Trump Administration hindered the quartet efforts to get a much-weakened Qatar to comply. The Defense and State Departments helped balance out the president’s more negative attitude towards Qatar in order to prevent any negative fallout of the U.S. interests in the region

The Gulf Crisis The U S Factor

Introduction

On June 5, 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt announced that they had decided to sever their diplomatic ties with Qatar. The four countries also imposed a full blockade on Qatar, covering its (single) land border with Saudi Arabia as well as the country’s air and seaports. This extended to transit travel across the region, with all planes travelling to and from Qatar prevented from landing in Saudi, Emirati, Bahraini or Egyptian airports. Qatari diplomats were given 48 hours to leave the blockading countries while other Qatari nationals were allowed two weeks.

Unlike his senior advisers, who favored a more balanced approach to prevent any negative fallout of the U.S. interests, President Trump lent support to the blockading countries particularly in the early stages of the crisis. He has since changed his position gradually to become more in harmony with the position of the foreign policy establishment. This paper examines the U.S. position on the Gulf crisis and the evolution of President Trump’s policy on the blockade of Qatar. It argues that the inconsistency in U.S. policy towards the Gulf crisis has contributed to complicating the issue and made it even more difficult to find a quick solution to the problem.

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