White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is leading a delegation to Saudi Arabia and Qatar this week amid high tension in the Middle East following the elimination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
Kushner will be accompanied by Special Representative for International Negotiations Avi Berkowitz, former Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook and Adam Boehler, chief executive of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation.
A senior US administration official said on Sunday that Kushner is meeting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Red Sea city of Neom, the same city where Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recently met with the Saudi leader. Kushner and the delegation will then travel to Qatar and meet with the Emir and other officials.
The central focus of the trip will be to advance efforts to resolve the “Qatar crisis” – a diplomatic crisis that began in 2017 when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a land, air and sea blockade on Qatar due to its support for terrorism and relations with Iran. The blockade was followed by 13 demands, including shutting down its state-owned Al Jazeera media network, cutting ties with the Muslim brotherhood and closing a Turkish military base.
Qatar has acknowledged providing support for the Muslim Brotherhood (and of course it openly supports Hamas) but denies aiding al-Qaeda or the Islamic State.
Following the blockade, Turkey and Iran stepped in for their friend Qatar, with both offering use of their air and naval space for goods to be shipped into the Gulf monarchy. Since then, Qatar has deepened ties with the two countries, with Doha one of the largest foreign investors in Turkey and sharing one of the world’s largest gas fields with Iran.
Qatar is a US ally, with the US maintaining its largest military facility in the Middle East in the wealthy Gulf state and the US has a vested interest in maintaining regional stability among its allies in the area to contain Iran and the Islamic state.
Kushner will also make one final attempt to convince Saudi Arabia to reach a normalization deal with Israel before President-elect Joe Biden enters office on January 20, 2021.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)
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