Analysis & Opinions - The Wall Street Journal

Tillerson Can End the Qatar Standoff

  • Dennis Ross
| Aug. 01, 2017

To preserve his credibility as a diplomat, the secretary of state needs to put a win on the board.

Defeating Islamic State is the Trump administration’s most important national-security priority. But removing ISIS from Mosul and Raqqa may end up meaning little absent the ability to secure, reconstruct and govern these and other cities. Preventing a dangerous power vacuum from forming in areas liberated from ISIS control requires the urgent involvement of unified Sunni Arab states.

Unfortunately, the Saudis, Emiratis, Bahrainis and Egyptians are currently distracted by a diplomatic imbroglio with Qatar over its support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has tried to mediate, but he erred by traveling to the region before negotiating a plan for ending the conflict. Good statecraft requires making it unacceptable to say “no” to the U.S. 

Already there are signs that both sides may be more amenable to a face-saving settlement. The Saudi-led coalition has softened its original 13 demands, which included shutting down Al Jazeera and closing a Turkish military base. Instead they are asking for Qatar to act on a set of principles, including combating terrorism and extremism, denying financing and safe haven to terrorist groups, ending incitement of hatred, and refraining from interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Ross, Dennis.“Tillerson Can End the Qatar Standoff.” The Wall Street Journal, August 1, 2017.

The Author

Dennis Ross