As the Qatar crisis deepens, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson started his four-day visit today to the Gulf in order to find a solution. He will first visit Kuwait followed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
The State department announced, “Tillerson will first meet with senior Kuwaiti officials to discuss the ongoing efforts to resolve the Gulf dispute later on Monday, before heading to Qatar and Saudi Arabia.”
Four countries - Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt - have cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed a land, air and sea blockade on the country. The quartet accused Qatar of funding terrorism.
On June 22, these four countries issued a 13-point list of demands as a prerequisite to lift the sanctions. However, Qatar rejected the demands and the countries now consider the list ‘null and void.’
Despite this, mediation efforts are continuing and Kuwait is trying to bring solution to the ongoing crisis. The US has been supporting Kuwait's mediation efforts, but Tillerson's trip will mark a new level of US involvement.
However, the state department has warned on Thursday that the crisis could potentially drag on weeks or even months and "possibly even intensify".
State department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, “We've become increasingly concerned that dispute is at an impasse at this point. We believe that this could potentially drag on for weeks; it could drag on for months; it could possibly even intensify.”
However, she didn't specify what type of escalation the US fears. But she said Tillerson has been in close contact with the countries involved.
Last month, Tillerson urged the four countries to ease their blockade on Qatar, saying it is causing unintended humanitarian consequences and affecting the US-led fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and ISIS.
Tillerson said, “Our expectation is that these countries will immediately take steps to de-escalate the situation and put forth a good faith effort to resolve their grievances they have with each other.”
More than 11,000 US and coalition forces are stationed at the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, from which more than 100 aircraft operate.