Who of us doesn't remember the one and only Trump visit to the Arab World in May 2017? At that time, the US President chose Saudi Arabia for his very first overseas trip as US commander in chief and during the two days of the Riyadh summit, he met with 54 leaders of Arab and Muslim-majority countries, including all six GCC states. Only a few days later, the longest GCC rift broke out.
While it's very hard to get to know what exactly went on during that summit apart from official announced statements and appearances covered by the press, discussions and agreements made behind doors during the 20th and 21st of May 2017 may have indeed paved the way for the deepest dispute between Qatar on one side, and Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt on the other.
A Business Insider report that was published one year after Trump's MENA visit revealed details about plans carried out by top Trump aides Elliott Broidy and George Nader to take advantage of Saudi and Emirati attempts to isolate Qatar, a close regional ally to Iran, by pushing anti-Qatar resolutions in the Congress in exchange for $1 billion worth of business contracts with Saudi and the UAE.
On Feb. 7, 2017, Broidy wrote to a staffer for the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee about a bill aimed at sanctioning Qatar for alleged support of terrorist groups— part of what Nader called "hammering Qatar," emails show. - Business Insider
The BI report highlights that Broidy's efforts in that regard can be traced in his emails as early as February 2017.
In light of this report, tensions between the two GCC camps broke out only two days after the Riyadh summit ended, when the official website of the state-owned Qatari News Agency was hacked on the 23rd of May 2017 and comments attributed to the Emir of Qatar in which he allegedly "made indirect attacks against other GCC states, praised Iran's regional role, and criticized US policies" were posted.
Even though the Qatari government had insisted that the reports are false and were posted during a cyberattack, Saudi Arabia and its regional allies widely shared the controversial statements via their media outlets and used it to justify their complete boycott of Qatar in the early weeks of June 2017, one that is still going on to this very day.
War tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran was escalated at the 2017 Riyadh summit by Trump with his anti Iran speech despite defeat by Iran hardliners in election a week before Trump trip. US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, Iran sanctions followed soon after. pic.twitter.com/1p1O1SVy9K— ?? ????Dan Popescu ?????? (@PopescuCo) September 14, 2019
Moreover, reports by the Intercept had cited 2017 Saudi plans to "invade Qatar," ones that were allegedly stopped by then-US State Secretary Rex Tillerson.
While these developments have all coincided during the very first months of the Trump administration, press reports are now noting that extensive diplomatic efforts have been heavily concerting to end the GCC conflict since US media has projected the democratic candidate for US presidency Joe Biden as the president-elect.
?? Urgent - New Kuwaiti movement to resolve the Gulf dispute— Imminent Global News (@imminent_news) November 8, 2020
• Supported by America and high hopes for a new breakthrough
• Collapsing the crisis to face global changes and events #kuwait #mostshared https://t.co/ESalnJflMM
The Kuwaiti Alqabas newspaper has reported that the government of Kuwait, which has remained impartial during the 3-year GCC rift, "has received US support to end the conflict between the different parties in the region" and that "an agreement is closer than ever," supporting the argument that says that "the Trump administration might have been orchestrating the whole regional dispute after all."
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