After Tillerson, is Gulf crisis heading for long 'cold peace'?

After Tillerson, is Gulf crisis heading for long 'cold peace'?
From Al Jazeera - March 14, 2018

Washington,DC- US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's ouster by President Donald Trump and the replacement of CIA Director Mike Pompeo mayshift US policy in the Middle East in ways that could prolong the Gulf crisis and raise tensions with Iran, according to US-based analysts.

"TheQataris have lost a friend in the administration and that ca not be very comforting for them," GeraldFeierstein, director of Gulf affairs and government relations at the Middle East Institute, told Al Jazeera.

Trumpand Tillerson appeared to be at oddswith each other on a range of key foreign policy issues, including the Iran nuclear deal and the Gulf dispute.

OnTuesday, after he confirmed Tillerson's departure, Trump told reporters outside the White House that he and the top US diplomat "disagreed on things".

AfterSaudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt initially cut diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar on June 5, 2017, Tillerson criticised the group, urging it to ease its blockade.

Thisappeared to contradict the initial support from Trump, who tweeted onJune 6: "During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar - look!"

Twoweeks after the blockade began, the state department issued one of its most blistering critiques of the Saudi-led group, saying it was "mystified" that the blockading countries had not given Qatar its list of demands or "the details about the claims they aremaking towards Qatar".

"Themore time goes by, the more doubt is raised about the actions taken by Saudi Arabia and the UAE," Heather Nauert, the State Department spokeswoman, said at the time.

Theblockading countries issued a list of demands days later onJune 22,which included scaling down relations with Iran and closing down Al Jazeera.

Trumphas since softened his tone towards the Qataris as the State Department repeatedly urged the countries to engage in dialogue.

Earlier this month, the US president and Qatari emir spoke by phone about regional developments and opportunities to "enhance the American-Qatari partnership on a range of security and economic issues", according to a White House press release.

Trumpis also set to meet several leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) over the coming months to discuss the possibility of establishing a GCC summit later this year under Washington's auspices, according to Reuters news agency.

'Saudis, Emiratis dug in'

IncomingSecretary of State Pompeo has said nothing publicly about the Gulf crisis, and, according to analysts, it looks unlikely that things will change in the Gulf in the foreseeable future.

"Everythingthat we have seen and heard so far is that the Saudis and Emiratis are dug in and not particularly inclined to reach an accommodation," said Feierstein, a former ambassador to Yemen and deputy to former Secretary of State John Kerry in the Obama administration.

"Theyare perfectly prepared to see this thing drag out for years.

"Thebest guess is that we are going to continue to have this cold peace" between Qatar and its Gulf neighbours.

Tillerson,who had been CEO of ExxonMobil for 10 years, understood the importance of the role of the US in smoothing out tensions between and among US allies in the Gulf, Hady Amr, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, told Al Jazeera.

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