Why Have Four Presidents plus Two Arab Rulers Got Nowhere in the Qatar Dispute?

Four presidents, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Emmanuel Macron and Tayyip Erdogan, two Arab rulers, the King of Morocco and Emir of Kuwait, and three foreign secretaries, Rex Tillerson of the US, Sergey Lavrov of Russia and Jean-Yves Le Drian of France, each tried their hands at patching up the Saudi-Egyptian-UAE quarrel with Qatar. They all failed.
As the months go by, the chances of a resolution are fading in reverse proportion to the economic and political damage the rift is causing.
The lingering standoff is rooted in a number of causes, as DEBKA Weekly reports:
1. None of the would-be mediators, while issuing bombastic statements, produced a single workable proposal – excepting only the Emir of Kuwait.
2. The US, Russian and French presidents confined themselves to ideas that either would not conflict with their own interests in the Gulf region, or would enhance their influence. Riyadh, Cairo, Abu Dhabi and Doha heard them out politely, but never took them seriously.
3. The would-be mediators were all judged biased in favor of one party or the other. For instance, Trump was seen as pro-Saudi, while Erdogan not only sided with Qatar, but sent Turkish troops to Doha to buttress the regime.
4. President Trump and secretary of state Tillerson were at odds over the dispute as was evident from their public statements. The President accused Qatar of funding terrorism at a “high level,” whereas Tillerson toured the Gulf and signed a memorandum of understanding with Qatari leaders, which opposed the financing of terrorism. The details of the MOU were never disclosed, but Tillerson described Qatar’s positions in the crisis as “very reasonable.”
5. The opposing sides hold inflexibly to their positions, refusing to give way on any points for the sake of mending fences. The group of four states stands by the harsh demands it has slapped down for Qatar. Doha rejects them as an assault on its national sovereignty.
6. Neither side trusts the other. Both believe that, even if a deal was somehow negotiated, its opposite number is already hatching schemes for cheating on its commitments.
This lack of trust was evident in a joint statement issued by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt on July 11. They demanded that Qatar’s commitment to combating terrorist and giving up funding terrorists be “monitored through strict mechanisms.”
Qatar took extreme umbrage at this slight on its honor, and the dispute veered further away from a cure than before.

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