Donald Trump – Wikimedia Commons
CAIRO – 9 June 2017: Qatar is deepening its strategic turbulence. It continues not to listen.
Qatar has been receiving advice for almost two decades on refraining from supporting extremism and terrorism. But now, it is not time for more advice. It is time for action.
On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump communicated via phone with the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to discuss the situation with Qatar and the need for Gulf unity, according to a senior administration official.
It was the fourth phone call Trump has had with a regional leader since Gulf allies severed diplomatic relations with Qatar last Monday over long-standing allegations that Doha is courting terrorists and Iran.
The Egyptian president told his U.S. counterpart that Qatar has one route to take: to abstain from supporting terrorists and extremists.
The situation is quite complex since Qatar’s foreign policy strategy has been evolving around supporting opposition figures from all Arab countries even if they endorse extremism and terrorism.
Two hours after the discussion with Sisi, Trump accused Qatar of funding terrorism at a "very high level", and said that the world wants the small country to rejoin "the unity of responsible nations".
Ostensibly, the phone call with the Egyptian President convinced the U.S. president to refrain from giving Qatar lip service. Trump’s remarks came just after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson separately urged Gulf nations to go easier on Qatar.
The remarks of Tillerson were widely welcomed by Qatari-based news channel, Al Jazeera. Following that, Trump changed the communicated message with a new tone saying; "The nation of Qatar has unfortunately been a funder of terrorism, and at a very high level."
The only introduced variable that can explain the shift in the language used by Trump is the phone call conducted with Sisi.
If Trump’s rhetoric continues with this tone, Qatar will be deprived of all international support.
The Qatari government is leading itself into a plight that it will not know how to end.