Haley: Gulf crisis ‘opportunity to hit on’ all sides

US ambassador to the UN says rift between Qatar and other Gulf states is ‘an opportunity to hit on both’ sides.

United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley Testifies To House Foreign Affairs Committee
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed sanctions on the country on June 5 [Alex Wong/AFP]

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has said that the crisis between Qatar and other Gulf states is “an opportunity” to influence both Qatar and Saudi Arabia

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Haley was testifying before the House Foreign Affairs committee on Wednesday when she was asked about her take on the crisis in the Gulf amid conflicting statements made by members of the Trump administration.

She said the US “should take it [the crisis] as the opportunity that it is”.

She said it was a good time to tell Qatar to “quit funding Hamas … but at the same time, go back to Saudi Arabia and say look you can talk to them [the Qataris] … you got to cut this out, you’ve got to stop doing this.”

Haley added that it was “an opportunity to sort of hit on both of them”.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed sanctions on the country on June 5, accusing it of supporting “terrorism”.

The four countries have not provided any evidence for their claim, while Qatar has repeatedly rejected the allegation.

Last Thursday, the Saudi-led bloc issued a 13-point demand list in exchange for the end of the anti-Qatar measures and gave a 10-day deadline.

READ MORE: Tillerson calls for talks to end Gulf diplomatic crisis

The demands included that Qatar shut down the Al Jazeera media network, close a Turkish military base and scale down ties with Iran.

Over the three weeks, US President Donald Trump has taken a tougher stance against Qatar, while the state department and the Pentagon had previously sought to remain neutral in the Gulf crisis.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said some demands on Qatar by a group of Arab countries that have imposed a blockade against it “will be very difficult to meet”.

Nevertheless, in a statement issued on Sunday, Tillerson said the list submitted by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt includes “significant areas which provide a basis for ongoing dialogue leading to a resolution”.

“A productive next step would be for each of the countries to sit together and continue this conversation,” Tillerson said.

‘Damage control’

Andreas Krieg, an assistant professor at King’s College London, told Al Jazeera there “absolutely” is a difference between the messages coming out of the White House and the state department and Pentagon.

“This is the big problem we see today with US foreign policy in the Middle East,” Krieg said.

“We have two positions. The one position is the formal one, which is state department and the Pentagon, who do have a good understanding of the complexities of the issues … On the other hand, we have the informal US government, which is the White House and which is based on personal relationships, partially by Donald Trump, but also Jared Kushner.”

READ MORE: All the latest updates on the Qatar-Gulf crisis

Krieg said the White House has been hearing one side of the story based on its relationships with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

“The White House and its close circle of friends have heard one side of the story, but haven’t really listened to the other side of the story and I think that’s a bit of the problem because there’s a lot of nuances that need be understand and are being lost.”

He added that he believes the Trump administration is now trying to “damage control”.

“I think they’re trying to roll back a little bit and say let’s try to manage this crisis and sell it as something positive, which it’s actually not.”

Source: Al Jazeera