Gulf Arab row rattles Trump’s anti-Iran axis

 Reuters International

MAY 31, 2017 – 

FILE PHOTO: Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani meets with U.S. President Donald Trump in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

(reuters_tickers)

By Sylvia Westall and Tom Finn

DUBAI/DOHA (Reuters) – Just 10 days after President Donald Trump called on Muslim countries to stand united against Iran, a public feud between Qatar and some of its Gulf Arab neighbours is jolting his attempt to tip the regional balance of power against Tehran.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are incensed by Qatar’s conciliatory line on Iran, their regional archrival, and its support for Islamist groups, in particular the Muslim Brotherhood, which they regard as a dangerous political enemy.

The bickering among the Sunni states erupted after Trump attended a summit of Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia where he denounced Shi’ite Iran’s “destablising interventions” in Arab lands, where Tehran is locked in a tussle with Riyadh for influence.

The spat shows no sign of abating, raising the prospect of a long breach between Doha and its closest allies that could have repercussions around the Middle East.

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani visits Kuwait on Wednesday for talks with his counterpart Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah that are expected to address the rift. Kuwait, a past mediator between Gulf states, has offered to help ease tensions.

But few expect an early end to what is not their first feud. Three years ago Saudi Arabia and the UAE withdrew their ambassadors from Doha for similar reasons, although they returned after less than a year.

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