U.S. Hopes a Small Step in Easing a Mideast Rivalry May Additional Rattle Iran’s Financial system

“There isn’t any fate-changing or existential disagreement between us and Qatar,” Mr. al-Mouallimi advised RT Arabic. “We’re one individuals and one nation, and the Qatari brothers are an extension of the dominion of Saudi Arabia, and the dominion of Saudi Arabia is an extension of them.”

For some time, it appeared that Mr. Trump would aspect towards Qatar.

As not too long ago as final 12 months, he thought of naming the Muslim Brotherhood a overseas terrorist group; the Islamist motion has renounced violence however has hyperlinks to some extremist teams. It additionally has some ties to Qatar’s authorities, which is aligned with Islamist organizations which are modeled on the Brotherhood.

However given different American strategic priorities — together with a U.S. navy air base at Al Udeid, southwest of Doha, and Qatar’s internet hosting of peace negotiations between the Afghan authorities and the Taliban — the Trump administration progressively determined to mediate a technique to reunite Qatar with its regional detractors.

The extra vital battle, it appeared, was towards Iran.

Since 2018, when Mr. Trump withdrew america from an accord to restrict Iran’s nuclear program, his administration has imposed punishing financial sanctions towards Tehran and denied it an estimated $70 billion in oil revenues. That has contributed to what Mr. Pompeo described final month as a 25 p.c minimize in Iran’s navy finances final 12 months.

Mr. Pompeo, who has taken the hardest line towards Iran amongst Mr. Trump’s advisers, has lengthy insisted that Tehran’s earnings goes to not profit the Iranian individuals, however to fund its missile packages and proxy militias it’s backing in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

Easing strain on Iran’s financial system — which the Qatari overflight charges have helped to do — can be what Mr. Pompeo referred to as “a harmful alternative, sure to weaken new partnerships for peace within the area and strengthen solely the Islamic Republic.”

An settlement to reroute Qatar’s airways would give the Trump administration one final kick at Iran. When it comes to brokering a means out of the blockade, nonetheless, it could quantity to solely a glancing blow on the festering deadlock among the many Arab states.

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