Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and top Pentagon officials are both complaining about the mounting scope of the ongoing Saudi-led blockade against Qatar, not so much the sake of Qatar itself, a long-time US ally, but rather because the largest US military base in the Middle East is there, and the blockade is really becoming an inconvenience for the US.
Tillerson gave some lip-service to “humanitarian concerns,” but like the Pentagon made clear primarily that the concern was that the blockade might hinder the US war against ISIS. The Pentagon in particular said the blockade was making “long-term operations” difficult to plan.
These both stand in sharp contrast to President Trump, who has endorsed the blockade and demanded that Qatar make radical changes to its official policy, in keeping with Saudi demands.
The richest nation in the world by per-capita GDP, Qatar is faced with a major shift in trading partners following the Saudi-led split, as it has cut off their only land border, and stopped boats and planes from visiting most of their neighbors. Qatar is courting Iran and Turkey as potential trading partners for food and water.
The US base houses about 11,000 troops and is the primary base for Central Command. Pentagon officials say supplies for the base are still getting through just fine, at least for now. Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis says that the base in Qatar remains particularly critical for the US air war against ISIS.
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