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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

America has options, so why does Qatar think it is immune from consequences? 

Donald Trump's statements to King Salman clearly underline that Doha must change its course

King Salman of Saudi Arabia and US president Donald Trump discussed recent diplomatic efforts to resolve the dispute with Qatar barely two months after Mr Trump's landmark visit to the kingdom. EPA / Saudi Press Agency
King Salman of Saudi Arabia and US president Donald Trump discussed recent diplomatic efforts to resolve the dispute with Qatar barely two months after Mr Trump's landmark visit to the kingdom. EPA / Saudi Press Agency

As the crisis with Qatar reaches the 40-day mark, US president Donald Trump has raised the possibility of seeking alternatives to the US military presence at Al Udeid airbase if diplomatic relations were to deteriorate further.

In a call with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Mr Trump reiterated the need for Doha to follow through with the commitments from the Riyadh summit and curtail funding for extremism. The US president said that many other countries would be willing to host an American airbase if they were to leave Qatar, while at the same time reiterating America's desire to maintain good relations and stability in the region. But Mr Trump’s message was clear. “We can’t have wealthy countries funding the beast,” he said.

His remarks send a clear message to Qatar. While some of Doha's calculations of the past month may have relied on a sense that the US would side with them in the regional dispute given the presence of thousands of American servicemen at the Al Udeid airbase, the reality is something different altogether. America cannot and will not stand idly by while its supposed regional ally in Doha supports terror and extremism. Doha must heed the warning in the US president's words. If it continues to "feed the beast" then it will pay the penalty for its bad behaviour.