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The Interminable Qatar Crisis

The retired general who was trying to resolve the Qatar crisis has resigned:

Zinni resigned after realizing he could not help resolve the Qatar dispute “because of the unwillingness of the regional leaders to agree to a viable mediation effort that we offered to conduct or assist in implementing,” he told CBS News. Zinni also felt there was no need for his involvement with the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) concept — a NATO-style security alliance — that he was asked to introduce to regional leaders, since other members of the administration are carrying it forward.

The Trump administration has had no luck in ending the dispute between the Saudi-led bloc and Qatar because the Saudis and Emiratis don’t want to back down and admit failure in their effort to bully their neighbor. Despite a year and a half of the blockade, Qatar has adapted and has no reason to yield to its neighbors’ excessive and unreasonable demands. Zinni was given a hopeless assignment. The president and the current Secretary of State have been so squarely on the side of the Saudis in all things that no one could see the U.S. as a fair mediator, and the top members of the administration that had been somewhat more sympathetic to Qatar have departed. The crisis itself was a product of the president’s own encouragement of Saudi and Emirati aggressiveness from very early on in his presidency, and as long as they are intent on trying to force Qatar into submission there isn’t going to be a resolution.

As for the so-called Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), the rift among the GCC members has been proof that there isn’t going to be any alliance that includes all of them together. This alliance was always unworkable, and I don’t blame Zinni for not wanting to waste his time on it. Pompeo will keep pushing the idea during his trip this week, but it isn’t going to go anywhere because at least half of the would-be members have no reason to join it.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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