Saudi Arabia lashed out at its former ally, Qatar, saying it should foot the bill for the US occupation of Syria.
Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, has said that Qatar should pay for the presence of U.S. military forces in Syria, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on April 24.
Jubeir’s statement was allegedly based on remarks by U.S. President Donald Trump during a joint press conference with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.
SPA reported that “Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir announced that Qatar should pay the voucher of the price of US military forces’ presence in Syria, and to send its military forces there, before the US President lifts American protection of the State of Qatar, embodied in the presence of US military base, on its soils.
The Foreign Minister reasserted US President utterance that if the US is to withdraw its protection, represented in the military base located in Qatar, then that regime will fall, within less than a week.”
On April 17, Saudi Arabia declared its readiness to send troops into Syria as part of the U.S.-led coalition if a decision is taken to widen it.
On April 16, the Wall Street Journal claimed Washington had allegedly requested Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to devote billions of dollars for reconstruction efforts in U.S.-occupied part of Syria and had asked Gulf states to contribute troops to an Arab force that would replace U.S. troops in the war-torn country.
On April 4, the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, Brett H. McGurk, hinted that Trump had a plan to replace U.S. forces in Syria with Arab troops. He noted the move “required” U.S. officials “to go to coalition partners and remind them that their coalition has a big role to play” in bringing peace to the Middle East. He indicated that the Trump administration had been pushing for “regional ownership” of Middle East conflicts.
On April 3, Trump said the U.S. and its regional allies would soon decide how much longer the American troops should remain in Syria:
Saudi Arabia is very interested in our decision,” Trump stated.”
I said: ‘Well, you want us to stay, maybe you’re going to have to pay.’”
Despite the claims, Washington is expanding its military infrastructure in Syria in a move that does not resemble a troop withdrawal.
A U.S. military installation is now under construction in the oil-rich region of Deir Ez-Zor province, according to a report by state-run Russian news agency, Sputnik, on March 27, which quotes the press secretary of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Mehdi Kobani. The U.S. is also building a new military base in the area between Tell Baydar and Tell Tamr in northern Syria.
Saudi Arabia’s hostile remarks on Qatar are the latest in a diplomatic crisis between the two states that started in 2017. Since then, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have still not been able to find a common ground to improve relations.
Top Photo | Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson listens during a press conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Ahmed Al-Jubeir, Oct. 22, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP/Alex Brandon)