Tillerson’s attempt at shuttle diplomacy to handle the Qatar crisis appears to have failed:
Weary after failing to resolve a bitter dispute among regional allies, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson left the Middle East on Thursday, contrasting the “fragmented” decision making of the United States government with that of Exxon Mobil, the “highly structured” company he once ran.
Tillerson’s attempted mediation was hampered from the start by the incoherent U.S. response to the crisis over the last few weeks. Because he was repeatedly undermined in public by the president, who went out of his way to side with the Saudi-led bloc, the Saudis and their allies probably assumed they could ignore his warnings. The Trump administration has shown no interest in putting pressure on the four governments blockading Qatar, and that makes it easy for the bloc to ignore U.S. calls compromise. The administration’s wholehearted embrace of the Saudis in Riyadh will continue to cause the U.S. and the region more problems like this one.
The rift between Qatar and the other four states is great enough that the crisis is likely to go on for a long time:
“Right now, the parties are not even talking to one another at any level,” [Tillerson] said of the dispute between Qatar and four Persian Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia. Some of the issues that led the four to impose an embargo against Qatar are so complex that the “ultimate resolution may take quite a while,” he added.
The UAE’s foreign minister recently said that they are “headed for a long estrangement” from Qatar, and that suggests that there is no interest on the part of the Saudi-led bloc in reaching a compromise anytime soon.