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US dispatching team to work on Qatar dispute

Tim Lenderking (L) and Anthony Zinni
RIYADH: In a renewed move to defuse the worsening Qatar crisis, the US has announced plans to send a team including Tim Lenderking, deputy assistant secretary of state for Arabian Gulf Affairs, and retired Gen. Anthony Zinni to the Gulf within the next few days.
“The plans are being finalized,” said Jacob A. Williams, a US Embassy spokesman, on Sunday, who referred to a statement by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson of the visit of Lenderking and Zinni to the Gulf late last week.
Tillerson said: “I am going to dispatch Tim back to the area… and I have also asked Zinni to be with Tim so that we can maintain a constant pressure on the ground … We are committed to see this disagreement resolved, restore Gulf unity, because we think it is important to the long-term effort to defeat terrorism in the region.”
Referring to his visit to the Kingdom and Qatar recently, Tillerson said: “An important part of the trip, when I was in the region, was to sign a memorandum between the US and Qatar to address terrorism, counterterrorism, terror financing and the identification of known or suspected terrorist.”
The Anti-Terror Quartet (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt) severed its diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar on June 5 this year, after accusing Doha of supporting extremists and funding terrorism.
Referring to the US position on the row between the Quartet and Qatar, the US secretary of state said that “we are quite concerned about this dispute because we think it is destabilizing to the Gulf itself and undermines unity in the GCC, which we believe is important to maintain stability in the region.”
While it was not clear if Zinni will be taking charge of the Qatar file as an official envoy for the US government, the news of his visit was welcomed by policy experts in Washington. “Few American figures are as well respected and well-liked by all GCC governments as Zinni,” said Marcelle Wahba, president of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. She described Zinni as the “perfect envoy to the region.”

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