In wake of Trump visit, Saudi-led Sunni bloc already splintering

US President Donald Trump (4-L) speaks with Oman’s Deputy Prime Minister Fahd bin Mahmoud Al-Said (3-L) during a family photo with Gulf Cooperation Council leaders at their summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 21, 2017.  (photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

In wake of Trump visit, Saudi-led Sunni bloc already splintering

Author: Bruce Riedel

The Saudi-orchestrated bloc of Sunni Muslim states celebrated at US President Donald Trump‘s visit to Riyadh is splintering less than two weeks after the summit. There is growing unease with the summit’s intense animosity toward Iran and increasing concerns that the Saudis are inflaming the sectarian divide between Sunnis and Shiites. Trump’s domestic troubles are also raising doubts over whether Washington is reliable.

SummaryPrint Less than two weeks after Trump’s summit in Saudi Arabia, “Arab NATO” is showing signs of division due to fears of widening the regional political divide and doubts over Washington’s reliability.

The most acrimonious split is in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which held its own private summit with the president. The Qatari emir allegedly told an audience at home just after the summit that the Saudis were placing too much trust in a president in deep political trouble at home. He also criticized the virulent rhetoric castigating Iran at the summit. Emir Shaykh Tamim bin Hamid Al Thani has publicly said the Gulf states need to engage Tehran, not isolate it. He called Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to congratulate him on his re-election. In response, the Saudis and Emiratis blocked Qatar’s Al-Jazeera network. The Qataris said the emir’s remarks had been hacked by unknown sources and misinterpreted, but they provided little evidence to support their claim.

The Saudis next…

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