Uncertainty over Trump call before latest Saudi-Qatar spat

Uncertainty over Trump call before latest Saudi-Qatar spat
2 min read
10 Sep, 2017
Uncertainty surrounds the reasons for the latest angry Riyadh tirade against Doha, following a conversation between the the Qatari ruler and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Qatar's Emir Tamim al-Thani spoke with Saudi's Crown Prince Mohammed earlier this week [Getty]
A phone call between Qatar's Emir Tamim al-Thani and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was supposed to be the first step to ending a four-month crisis in the Gulf.

The response from Saudi Arabia to a Qatari news agency report on the talks was angry and prickly, and highlighted the Riyadh-led bloc's petty approach to Qatar.

Riyadh insisted that Qatar should state it was Emir Tamim who made the call to the young prince.

This simple act would make it subtly appear Qatar had yielded to the pressure of the Saud-UAE blockade on the emirate, and could be portrayed as a first step in Doha's capitulation to the bloc's outlandish demands.

But the facts behind the conversation - how it was initiated and US President Donald Trump's role in the mediation - are still uncertain.

From Qatar's side, the phone call was made after Trump spoke to leaders involved in the conflict and the president had offered a way out of the fracas.

Trump had promised earlier this week that he could swiftly end the dispute between the US' key regional allies and calls were made to Gulf leaders.

There still appears to be a lack of clarity on what Trump told the affected parties and a misunderstanding likely led to the latest flare-up.

The reason for Riyadh's anger appears to be linked to a report from Qatar's news agency that stated Emir Tamim "welcomed a proposal" from Mohammed bin Salman to appoint two peace envoys as mediators.

Brief hopes of reconciliation ended when Saudi Arabia's own state news agency accused Qatar of fabricating facts behind the phone-call.

Saudi media went into overdrive in its attacks against Doha again and it appeared the Gulf states were back to square one.

Trump's role in this call is still unclear but many will remember the president taking sides (backing Saudi Arabia and the UAE) as tensions built in June, which undoubtedly added to the confusing situation.

Whether talks will re-commence soon with or without Trump's mediation is still to be seen.