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The Qatar Crisis and Tillerson’s Failed Shuttle Diplomacy

Tillerson’s attempt at shuttle diplomacy to handle the Qatar crisis appears to have failed [1]:

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 [2] 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.

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5 Comments To "The Qatar Crisis and Tillerson’s Failed Shuttle Diplomacy"

#1 Comment By Omar On July 14, 2017 @ 9:45 am

I think the point about incoherence in foreign policy is bang on and I wonder how long Tillerson will stay in the job.

Also, I just can’t get my head around why the GCC would do this without contemplating a Plan B. A long estrangement with Qatar means that country will have no choice but to solidify it’s ties with Turkey and Iran which is against US and GCC strategic interests. Once a gain, an own-goal for the US and it’s allies.

#2 Comment By Thanks Guys On July 14, 2017 @ 11:19 am

Yet another intractable, inflammable Middle East mess, courtesy of many of the same corrupt screw-ups who brought us the Iraq, Libya, and Syrian disasters.

#3 Comment By Centralist On July 14, 2017 @ 1:39 pm

There is an island nation called Cuba that had/has a like a sixty year embargo from its northern neighbor and all did was rally people to the local leadership. Crazy fact people take pride in their countries and do not like being told they are evil. I would hope the average American could understand that yet I feel the do yet refuse to accept it.

#4 Comment By Tillersaurus Rex On July 14, 2017 @ 2:55 pm

God bless Secretary Tillerson. May he persist, endure, and, eventually, may his efforts be crowned with success. He’s only doing what the White House would be doing if Trump kept his campaign promises instead of making the bad Middle East messes he inherited even worse.

#5 Comment By Kenneth Almquist On July 15, 2017 @ 11:49 am

Tillerson: “Those are not the characteristics of the United States government. And I don’t stay that as a criticism, it’s just an observation of fact, it’s largely not a highly disciplined organization, decision-making is fragmented and sometimes people don’t want to take decisions, coordination is difficult through the interagency — has been for every administration.”

There’s some truth to that, but I don’t think it applies to the Qatar crisis. The issue there is not that the U.S. government is not a highly disciplined organization; it’s that Trump is not a highly disicplined person. When Trump signs off on Tillerson’s mission and then undermines it with his tweets, that’s entirely on Trump.