Trump Adviser: Lifting of Qatar blockade a ‘priority’ in next 70 days

O'Brien also said he was optimistic that "an air bridge" could be established, allowing flights to and from Qatar to pass over Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in the coming weeks.

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  • Trump’s outgoing administration is working to end the Gulf blockade on Qatar.
  • The U.S. aims to establish more ‘peace’ deals with Israel by ending the Gulf crisis.
  • The purpose for the end of the blockade is also aimed at countering Iranian influence in the region.
  • The UAE’s ambassador to the US says that the crisis would not be resolved until Qatar fulfills its demands.

President Donald J. Trump’s outgoing administration is working to end the three-year Gulf blockade on Qatar.

According to the U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, there was a “possibility” of resolving the Gulf crisis.

Qatar has been under a sea, land, and air blockade from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain, since June 2017.

Explained: Here's why Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain & Egypt cut ties with Qatar

“I would like to see that end before – if we end up leaving office – I would like to see that get done in the next 70 days,” O’Brien expressed during an interview at the Global Security Forum 2020. “I believe there is a probability for it.”

O’Brien also said he was optimistic that “an air bridge” could be established, allowing flights to and from Qatar to pass over Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in the coming weeks.

Doha, Qatar.

The comments come as other Trump administration officials have said they would like to see the dispute settled as part of Washington’s efforts to isolate Iran.

“It is in America’s interest to have harmonious relationships within the [Gulf Cooperation Council] as that provides a vital counter-balance to Iran,” O’Brien said.

Normalization with Israel
(Saul Loeb/AFP)

O’Brien said a resolution to the Gulf crisis was also directed at “pushing for more Arab countries to establish relations with Israel.”

“It would unlock the opportunity for more ‘peace’ deals with Israel while creating an economic opportunity zone beyond the Middle East and even being able to take that out to other parts of the Arab and the Muslim world.”

‘A family dispute’

O’Brien said that resolving the Gulf crisis is a “priority” for President Trump and compared the issue to a family dispute.

“This is a family dispute. And just like family disputes, sometimes those are the hardest to solve,” he said.

“But we would like to get all these cousins back together at the Thanksgiving table, so to speak.”

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince, and de facto chief of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) meets with Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar. This meeting was held three months before the blockade. (Hamad Al Kaabi / Crown Prince Court – Abu Dhabi)

The Qatari Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, said on Monday that there were no victors in the blockade and anticipated tensions would ease “at any moment.”

Nevertheless, the UAE’s ambassador to the US, Yousef al-Otaiba, told Israel’s Channel 12 on Sunday that he did not think a resolution to the Gulf crisis was imminent and blamed Doha for playing the victim.

He added Qatar must obey a list of 13 ultimatums previously given for the blockade to be lifted, including shutting down a Turkish military base, ending ties with Iran, and shutting down the Al Jazeera Media Network.

“I do not think it gets resolved anytime soon simply as I don’t think there has been any introspection,” al-Otaiba said.

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