Jared Kushner heading to Saudi Arabia and Qatar in last ditch effort to resolve Gulf dispute

Oliver O'Connell
·2 min read
Jared Kushner pictured on a visit to Saudi Arabia in 2017 (AFP via Getty Images)
Jared Kushner pictured on a visit to Saudi Arabia in 2017 (AFP via Getty Images)

Jared Kushner will travel to Saudi Arabia and Qatar in the next few days in an effort to resolve the ongoing dispute between the Gulf neighbours.

The trip could create a last-minute diplomatic victory for the Trump administration by solving a long-running rift between Qatar and a number of other Arab countries, all of whom are American allies.

In June 2017 Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt severed diplomatic relations with Qatar over its alleged support for terrorism and relations with Iran.

Qatari airplanes and ships were banned from using the airspace and sea routes of the four countries, and the only land crossing into the country was blocked by Saudi Arabia.

Jordan joined the original four and support was given by the Maldives, Mauritania, Senegal, Djibouti, the Comoros, Yemen, and the Tobruk-based government in Libya.

As a special adviser to the president, Mr Kushner will meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Qatari Emir Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, Axios reports.

Through his role in helping to normalise relations between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan, Mr Kushner has developed close relationships with both leaders during his trips to the region.

Indeed, his rapport with MBS was reportedly very important in the closing stages of putting together the Abraham Accords peace deal, signed at the White House in September.

The visit comes just a week after a secret meeting between MBS and the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel — the first known meeting between the leaders of the two countries.

While the Saudis have made some positive gestures in favour of the accord, such as approving Bahrain’s involvement and allowing Israeli airlines to use their airspace, they have not agreed to normalise relations.

Were the Trump administration to resolve the disagreement between the Gulf states and Qatar, and bring Saudi Arabia and Israel to the negotiating table, it would be a diplomatic triumph in the final days of Donald Trump’s presidency.

US allies in the region could then stand shoulder-to-shoulder in their opposition to Iran.

The trip also comes just days after the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, condemned by both Qatar and the UAE.

Accompanying Mr Kushner will be White House envoy Avi Berkowitz, International Development Finance Corporation CEO Adam Boehler, and former Iran envoy Brian Hook, involved in previous efforts to resolve the Qatar dispute and now a special adviser.

Read More

Pompeo reverses Obama-era ruling during trip to Israel

Iran vows to avenge killing of top nuclear scientist ‘in due time’

Why decriminalising alcohol makes economic sense for the UAE

Israel-Saudi Arabia peace deal talks ‘stall after secret meeting’

UAE, Bahrain and Israel sign historic ‘peace deal’