Saudi Arabia and the UAE had apparently considered military action in the initial stages of the crisis, only to be put off by Donald Trump’s warning, according to two people familiar with the US President’s discussions.
The Saudis and Emiratis wanted to remove the Qatari regime, after accusing them of backing terrorism and for having close ties with Iran, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions were confidential.
Trump suggested that any military action would cause a crisis across the Middle East which would only benefit Iran, one of the people said.
Trump administration had also sent high-level messages to Saudi Arabia and the UAE to resolve the dispute. Trump who initially appeared to be with Saudi bloc took a U-turn after he realised that a prolonged dispute will be an advantage to Iran, according to a U.S. official familiar with his thinking.
However, Trump has denied any such warning given to the Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Trump met with Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday.
At the same meeting, Trump confronted the Qatari leader with what one U.S. official said is evidence that Qatar is still engaged in terrorism-related activity and told him it has to stop.
After the meeting, Trump said that US is pushing for an end to the Gulf crisis. “We are right now in a situation where we’re trying to solve a problem in the Middle East,” he said. “I have a very strong feeling that it will be solved, and pretty quickly.”
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has denied reports of military action. The allegations are entirely incorrect, have already been denied, and amount to nothing more than typically misleading Qatari propaganda, said a Saudi official familiar with the matter.
Trump has been speaking to Gulf leaders after his meeting with Kuwaiti Sheikh earlier in Washington.
Outlining his mediation efforts at a press conference with Trump, Sheikh Sabah said, “Thank God, what’s important is that we stopped any military thing.” The Saudi-led coalition responded with a statement saying that a “military solution was never and will never be on the table.”