Article from The Washington Free Beacon
Written by: Adam Kredo
The Trump administration is offering to mediate a percolating crisis in the Middle East that has seen several key Arab nations break relations with Qatar, a top U.S. military ally that has played a central role in American counter-terrorism operations, according to multiple U.S. officials who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon about the situation.
Major Arab nations, led by Saudi Arabia, announced this week that they are ceasing formal ties with Qatar over its continued funding of radical terrorism groups, including Hamas and others.
The announcement took Washington by surprise and sparked concerns that the move could negatively impact American-backed counter-terrorism operations in the region, many of which are coordinated via the U.S.-operated Al Udeid Air Base in Doha.
While Qatar’s long-running support for some of the globe’s most nefarious terror groups has stoked tensions regionally and with the West, it has often been overlooked due to the Pentagon’s reliance on Qatar’s military help in the region.
The nation’s “double dealing,” as some sources described it, hit the breaking point this week, when top Arab nations announced that they are cutting all formal ties and relations with Doha, a move that has only aggravated U.S. policy makers and forced them to more forcefully acknowledge Qatar’s support for the terror forces it purports to fight against.
“The United States’ relationship with Qatar is strong and we cooperate with Qatar in a number of areas, including in the fight against terror,” one State Department official, speaking on background, told the Free Beacon. “All of our partnerships in the Gulf are incredibly important and we count on the parties to find a way to resolve their differences sooner rather than later.”
A senior White House official echoed this sentiment in conversations with the Free Beacon, acknowledging that the break in formal ties could result in Qatar becoming closer with Iran, a top enemy of Saudi Arabia and leading U.S. allies in the region.
“We’d like to see them all work it out,” one senior White House official told the Free Beacon, describing the situation from the U.S. end as being in wait-and-see mode.
While the United States has not been formally asked to involve itself in the situation, Trump administration officials are pushing for Qatar and the Gulf countries to find a solution, primarily one that sees Doha ending its financial support for terror groups.