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Published On: Thu, Jul 13th, 2017

Tillerson Diplomacy Yields Ideas for Resolving Gulf Crisis

Araweelo News Network

Washington(ANN)-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s shuttle diplomacy in the Gulf this week yielded ideas that could provide the basis for a solution to the conflict between Qatar and its neighbors, according to three officials with knowledge of the deliberations, even though the top U.S. diplomat failed to end the crisis.

While Tillerson headed back to Washington without a concrete proposal on how to resolve the dispute, now in its second month, his meetings in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar were positive, the officials said on condition of anonymity. The talks may be followed by another round of negotiations involving the U.S., the U.K. and the Saudi-led bloc, which has agreed to study Tillerson’s ideas, as early as next week, according to the officials.

The continuing engagement amounts to “subtle progress” in untangling a long-developing conflict that “could take a lot of time” to resolve, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters Thursday in Washington.

Tillerson is working to resolve a conflict over regional power that pits close U.S. allies against each other. In doing so, he is relying on extensive connections he developed as chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp. His concerted efforts toward a deal helped put Qatari stocks on course for their best week since the crisis erupted on June 5.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and trade links with Qatar, and have promised additional punitive measures against their gas-rich neighbor after it rejected their 13 conditions for ending the standoff. They accuse it of supporting terrorism, meddling in their internal affairs and cozying up to their rival Iran — all charges that Qatar has denied.

Read More: Why the Qatar Crisis Defies Rapid Resolution: QuickTake Q&A.

Tillerson, who visited Qatar on Thursday for the second time this week, signed a memorandum of understanding with the emirate on July 11 laying out steps the two countries will take over coming months and years to interrupt and disable terrorist financing flows. The Saudi bloc said that pact “isn’t enough” to resolve the crisis.

Two of the people who commented on the talks said Tillerson provided options for the Gulf countries to hash out under Kuwaiti mediation.

Tillerson held talks with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Thursday before departing for the U.S. He spent much of the previous day in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he traveled back and forth between the royal court for visits with the king and the crown prince and an airport terminal reserved for visiting dignitaries. He met with the four foreign ministers of the Saudi-led alliance, plus a Kuwaiti mediator.

Read More: Wary Investors Buoy Qatar Assets Amid Tillerson’s Mending Effort

The standoff has had a toll on the Qatari economy. Food prices rose at an annual level of 2.5 percent in June, the most since 2015, and rating agencies have downgraded the nation’s credit worthiness. While the “impact seems manageable,” non-oil economic growth will likely slow down to below 4 percent this year from 5.6 percent in 2016, according to Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.

“We expect private consumption to be impacted by weaker confidence,” Monica Malik, ADCB chief economist, wrote in a report emailed on Thursday.

Qatar boasts one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, with stakes in global companies from Glencore Plc to Barclays Plc as well as landmark London properties. Its influence goes beyond money. The small peninsula hosts the regional headquarters for U.S. Central Command, which includes a state-of-the-art air base the Pentagon depends on to target Islamic State.

Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, has strong counterterrorism ties with the U.S. and is a top customer for American weapons makers.

The memorandum of understanding with Qatar and Tillerson’s diplomacy reflected how the U.S. is now deeply entrenched in mediation, though the State Department has repeatedly said Kuwait, not Tillerson, is leading the effort.

The Saudi alliance said Tuesday’s agreement came about thanks to years of pressure from the bloc, according to a joint statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. They also vowed to maintain the recent measures against Qatar until their demands are met in full.

About the Author

- #Arraale Mohamoud Jama is a freelance and investigative journalist, writer and human rights activist with more than 20 years of experience. He writes about a range of topics related to social issues such as human rights, politics and security. Other topics in which Mr. Arraale is interested include democracy and good governance. Mr. Arraale has written extensively on regional and international events, and has worked with Somaliland newspapers and Human rights organizations. In 2008, he established #Araweelo #News #website# Network, which he currently manages. For further information, please contact: Info@araweelonews.com or jaamac132@gmail.com Send an SMS or MMS to + 252 63 442 5380 whatsapp.com/ + 252 63 442 5380 /https://twitter.com/Araweelonews/https://www.facebook.com/Araweelonews/

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