Saudis, Emiratis 'gloat' over Tillerson firing, Iran concerned

Saudis, Emiratis 'gloat' over Tillerson firing, Iran concerned
2 min read
14 March, 2018
The Middle East reacted to Tillerson's firing along geopolitical lines, with Gulf Arabs praising the news.
Tillerson gave his farewell speech on Tuesday [Getty]

Reactions in the Middle East to the sacking of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are reflecting the rift between Iran and the Gulf states.

Iran’s newspaper Javad said on Wednesday that Tillerson’s firing and replacement with Iran-hawk Mike Pompeo signalled the end of the nuclear deal.

“For quitting the deal his dumping was necessary,” said the newspaper.

The Gulf states’ reactions differed.

In the UAE, the Khaleej Times borrowed a signature Trump expression from his days on the TV show The Apprentice: “YOU’RE FIRED!”, a front-page headline read.

Saudi Arabia’s Arab News ran a Tillerson story with the same headline, as well as a sharp editorial against the now-former secretary of state.

As for the cause of Tillerson’s firing, Trump has singled out disagreements over the Iran nuclear deal. “I thought it was terrible. He thought it was OK. I wanted to either break it or do something, he felt a little differently. So we were not really thinking the same”, he said.

Tillerson’s has had a fraught public relationship with the US president. In October, news broke that Tillerson openly called Trump a “moron” following a July 20 Pentagon meeting.

Tillerson did not deny making the comment.

The UAE may have had a role in the sacking of the secretary of state, according to reports.

Emirati academic Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a close aide to the crown prince, hinted on Tuesday of the country’s role in the incident.

Translation: History will witness a Gulf country had a role in firing the foreign secretary of a major power

According to reports earlier this month, President Trump received a confidential document from Elliott Broidy, the Trump campaign’s largest fundraiser, urging him to meet the hawkish Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed in an “informal setting”. In it, Bin Zayed allegedly pressed the US president to sack Trump.

National Security Adviser HR McMaster resisted the meeting between the US president and Emirati crown prince, saying it went against protocol to meet outside the White House.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now, in addition to investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, looking into the UAE’s influence inon the US' Middle East policy.

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