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Saturday, January 16, 2021

White House advisor Jared Kushner to visit Qatar, Saudi ‘to resolve Gulf dispute’

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This visit could provide clarity after recent reports that a breakthrough in the three year long crisis was imminent. 

Senior White House advisor and US President Donald Trump’s son in-law, Jared Kushner, is scheduled to head to Qatar and Saudi Arabia this week in hopes of resolving the Gulf crisis, Reuters reported on Sunday.

According to the news agency, Kushner is going to meet Qatar’s Amir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in Doha and Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman in Neom, Saudi Arabia.

Kushner will be joined by Middle East envoys Avi Berkowitz, Brian Hook and Adam Boehler, chief executive of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation.

His visit seems to be targeting a solution to end the three-year long Gulf crisis that was triggered by the illegal blockade on Qatar and initially supported by the US President himself. It comes off the back of several claims made by number of diplomats recently including  Saudi, Kuwait, American and Qatari ones.

This will be the White House advisor’s second visit to Qatar since September, where his previous trip was seen by analysts as an effort to acquire pre-election wins prior to Trump’s failure in November’s poll. 

Since President-elect Joe Biden’s win, the Trump Administration has been seen to be eager to achieve more accomplishments before he leaves office in January.

Read also: Top US security official says he hopes air-blockade on Qatar will be lifted ‘in the next 70 days’

Earlier this month, US National Security Advisor, Robert O’Brien, expressed his hope that Saudi and Bahraini air space will be opened for Qatar Airways flights within the next “70 days”, in a statement made during the first session of the Global Security Forum.

“There is no winner out of this crisis and all of us are losing,” he said.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud has also been vocal about a possible resolution. Last week, he said that his country is seeking ways to end the blockade on Qatar. It was the second time Farhan made such a statement, with the foreign minister making similar claims earlier in October.

“We continue to be willing to engage with our Qatari brothers, and we hope that they are as committed to that engagement,” said bin Farhan in October during a virtual event hosted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a US based think-tank.

According to Meshal Al-Thani, Qatar’s ambassador to the US, recent diplomatic negotiations have also shown encouraging signs, however he emphasised Qatar’s commitment to ending the blockade if all parties are willing to negotiate without preconditions.

“If we can put these [conditions] on the side and come to the table with no conditions, respecting each other, respecting the sovereignty of each other, and talk about the real big grievances, if there are any, put them forward,” he said, calling for the blockading quartet to ditch their list of 14 demands.

But despite numerous mediating efforts by different countries, the UAE has stated that there are ‘no chances’ of ending the blockade on Qatar.

“I don’t think it gets resolved anytime soon simply because I don’t think there has been any introspection,” said Al Otaiba in response to a question about resolving the Gulf Crisis, accusing  Qatar of “playing the victim”.

The Gulf crisis erupted three years ago, when Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Qatar, ordering a full, illegal land, air and sea blockade, claiming that their action was in response to Qatar’s support for terrorism. Doha has consistently rejected the accusation.

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