Qatari crisis makes rifts within US administration visible

YUSUF SELMAN İNANÇ @yusufsinanc
ISTANBUL
Published 27.06.2017 23:06
Updated 27.06.2017 23:07
U.S. President Donald Trump listens to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speak during a cabinet meeting at the White House June 12.
U.S. President Donald Trump listens to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speak during a cabinet meeting at the White House June 12.

The Qatari crisis have exposed rifts between U.S. President Donald Trump and the departments under his authority as Trump's response and that of State Department to the crisis varied discernibly

After news of the Qatari crisis broke, U.S. President Donald Trump's response and that of the U.S. State Department varied discernibly. While the president wholeheartedly backed Saudi Arabia and its allies against Qatar, the State Department said the reasons put forth for the isolation of the small Gulf country were not reasonable. In the perplexing situation, the rifts between the president and the very departments under his authority have exposed gaping holes in what have historically been unified actions of U.S. administrations.

Trump repeatedly said he supports the isolation of Qatar until it fulfills the demands Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies put forth and addresses accusations that it finances terrorism. Yet, immediately after issuing remarks and posting tweets, the U.S. State Department said Saudi Arabia and its allies failed to justify the move. U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis signed the pre-scheduled $12 billion arms sales with Qata, despite the president's accusations. Furthermore, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the Saudi demands were not reasonable or implementable. Pointing out Tillerson's objections to the president's decisions and arguments, The Washington Post last week wrote: "Tillerson, a former Exxon Mobil chief executive officer with no prior government experience, gets some of the blame from White House officials and political advisers anxious to place Republican political appointees in numerous vacant positions at the U.S. State Department. They said Tillerson's deliberate approach to reviewing candidates and his insistence on a detailed department management review and reorganization, informed by his corporate background, has slowed down an already slow process."

Trump's presidency has already been very controversial. Although he won election, his campaign's alleged relations with Russia have led to an unprecedented scandal, one of the biggest in U.S. history. With his belligerent character, Trump has insisted that he did not receive any help from Russia in winning the election, blustering amid claims that his success was overshadowed with baseless allegations. Yet, several documents have shown that while not directly himself, many of the officials in Trump's administration held secret talks with Russian agents. Even before he took the presidential post, Trump's approach to Russia was a matter of hot debate in the U.S., leading to accusations from hi

s opponents that he was being backed by Russia. His main rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, repeatedly said Russia attempted to interfere with the election in support of Trump. While a U.S. intelligence report said Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an intelligence operation targeting the presidential election to harm Clinton's chances of winning, the allegations caused the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who had failed to explain his relationship with Russia and Russian-funded entities. Yet, Trump might have changed his policy to mitigate his dissidents. He appointed H.R. McMaster, who was hailed by pro-Israel circles, to replace Flynn. Security adviser Stephen Bannon, who has been accused of making Islamophobic and anti-Semitic statements, was removed from the National Security Council, as well. Following his removal, Bannon lashed out at Trump's recently appointed senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is the son of Holocaust survivors and allegedly has personal relations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

A similar rift was visible in the approach to Ukraine, which has been occupied by Russia along with the annexation of Crimea. Drawing out the division within the administration, the Guardian last week reported: "The dissonance on policy toward Russia and Ukraine is equally striking, and was illustrated by the visit to Washington this week by the Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko. By the time Poroshenko left Kiev, the meeting had still not been confirmed. The White House was insisting that Poroshenko would only be meeting Vice President Mike Pence, which would be a significant snub. It was only after persistent pressure from the national security adviser H.R. McMaster, that a compromise was found. Pence and Poroshenko would 'drop in' briefly on Trump and McMaster." It is not unheard of for the Pentagon and White House to dispute certain topics regarding foreign policy. Still, Trump's moves and the departments' actions seem to disaffirm each other.

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