Speed Reads

qatar crisis

U.S. ambassador to Qatar steps down amid major Middle Eastern turmoil

The U.S. ambassador to Qatar will leave her post later this month amid rising diplomatic turmoil in the Middle East.

America has been sending mixed messages since the crisis began, with President Trump taking credit for the Gulf states' freeze-out of Qatar while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has simultaneously called on Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt to "ease" their blockade.

Qatar is accused by the surrounding Sunni Gulf states of funding terrorist groups, claims Qatar has denied. "During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of radical ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar — look!" Trump nevertheless boasted, with The Week's Ryan Cooper arguing the president's "extreme gullibility allowed the Saudis to seize the initiative against a rival."

Meanwhile, the U.S. ambassador, Dana Shell Smith, had taken to Twitter to try to promote calm, sharing that Qatar is making "real progress to counter terrorist financing" and calling the relationship between the United States and Qatar "great." Notably, America's largest military base in the Middle East is also located in Qatar.

But despite behind-the-scenes efforts by Tillerson and Smith, on Friday Trump again criticized Qatar, calling it "unfortunately … a funder of terrorism at a very high level." Smith announced her resignation Tuesday morning:

"Smith has served as ambassador to Qatar for nearly three years, the normal length of time for an ambassador assignment," the Washington Examiner writes, although CNBC's John Harwood called it "noteworthy" that Smith "pushed back on Qatar attacks [that] Trump repeated Friday after [the State Department] sent calming message" and "announced she's leaving four days later."