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Middle East and Africa/US politics: US mediation in the Gulf flounders amid divided opinion

Jonathan Schanzer
9th August 2017 - Quoted by The Economist

The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has continued to push for dialogue and an end to the boycott of Qatar to resolve the Gulf crisis. However, his intervention does not appear to be making much progress. Meanwhile, deep divisions remain in the US, where there are influential politicians arguing both for and against Qatar's objectives in the Middle East. The latest developments on the mediation front lend further support to our expectation that the divide between Qatar and its neighbours—Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt—will last for an extended period of time.

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The latest and most serious manifestation of this trend was a meeting of the House of Representative's foreign affairs subcommittee on the Middle East on July 26th. The hearing heard testimonies from critics of Qatar, notably Jonathan Schanzer, a senior vice-president at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, a think-tank. The subcommittee's chair, Ileana Ros‑Lehtinen, is particularly critical of Qatar and issued a statement to that effect, noting that although it is making some progress in changing its behaviour (a likely reference to the logistical and financial support that Qatar provides to some Islamist groups in the Middle East), it is lagging behind Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

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Tags

gulf-states, qatar