NYT Editorial Repeats What We Said May 21 & Since : Trump Stupidly Takes Sides In Muslim Civil Wars Between Sunni / Shiites and Arabs / Persians — Puts US In Worst Possible Strategic Position … Some “Deal”, Don Don

“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology,” he wrote, adding, “Leaders pointed to Qatar — look!”

In two other tweets he reinforced this message, saying: “So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding … extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”

It is true that Qatar, like Saudi Arabia, can be a troublesome partner,

but Saudi Arabia’s complaint about Qatar and terrorism is hypocritical.

Qatar has long been accused of funneling arms and money to radical groups in Syria, Libya and other Arab countries.

But so has Saudi Arabia, a fact that Trump, seduced by royal flattery, chose to ignore.

Instead, he made common cause with Saudi Arabia against its perceived adversaries —

Iran, the main enemy, and Qatar, faulted for supporting terrorism and Iran’s regional ambitions.

A far wiser course would have been to seek a balance between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

That he did not is one more in a string of bad decisions that have unnerved allies and partners.

This is also a bad time to alienate Qatar.

With the United States allies beginning an assault on Raqqa, the Islamic State’s “capital” in Syria, America needs its bases.

Energy-rich Qatar has also played a unique role by mediating regional conflicts and pursuing an independent foreign policy,

sometimes angering the Saudis and other Arab gulf states.

It supported the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings that made the Saudis fearful,

and it established the pan-Arab news network Al Jazeera as a vehicle for expanding its influence.

Qatar has

  • engaged Israeli officials, while at the same time hosting leaders of Hamas;
  • maintained ties to Iranian leaders, while hosting U.S. forces; and
  • allowed the Afghan Taliban to open an office in Doha, Qatar’s capital,
  • which has facilitated talks between the militants and the United States.

The American ambassador to Qatar, Dana Shell Smith, this week retweeted one of her posts,

saying that Qatar made “real progress” in

  • curbing financial support for terrorists,
  • reportedly including prosecuting people for funding terrorist groups,
  • freezing assets and
  • putting stringent controls on its banks.

The State Department stressed that Qatar still has a ways to go,

and there is continuing debate about Qatar’s support of groups linked to the Muslim Brotherhood,

a Sunni Muslim group seen by Qatar as a constructive example of “political Islam”

but by Saudi Arabia as a threat to hereditary rule and regional security.

On Iran, Qatar has generally adopted a middle ground by supporting efforts to limit Iran’s regional influence,

while maintaining a conversation with Iran’s senior officials.

Qatar has a reason to work with Iran:

They share a large natural gas field in the Persian Gulf.

At the same time, Qatar is helping a Saudi-led coalition fight the Iranian-linked Houthi rebels in Yemen,

and backing insurgents fighting an Iranian ally, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

One thing seems clear in all this complexity:

Tiny Qatar is much more adept at diplomacy than is Trump.

The man who sold himself as a shrewd deal maker seems to believe instead in green lights and blank checks, causing great damage to American interests.

Even the $110 billion weapons package he signed in Riyadh turned out to be fantasy,

a collection of letters of interest or intent, not contracts, all begun during the Obama administration,

according to Bruce Riedel, a former C.I.A. analyst who was a senior official in the Obama White House.

Source: President Trump Picks Sides, Not Diplomacy, in the Gulf – The New York Times