Former U.S. Secretary of State lost his job after he ruined plans by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to militarily invade Qatar amid the ongoing diplomatic showdown opposing the peninsula and its neighbors, The Intercept reports citing U.S. sources.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE achieved Rex Tillerson’s removal in March after he moved to oppose a military plan by Saudi Arabia and its ally UAE to invade their neighbor Qatar, the news organization’s portal said in a report on Wednesday.
The two Gulf allies plus Bahrain and Egypt in June 2017 severed ties with Qatar and imposed a blockade on the tiny country over its alleged ties with Iran and support for terrorism.
President Donald Trump, though siding with the Saudi camp, offered to mediate the crisis and tasked the former CEO of Exxon Mobil to diffuse the crisis.
In summer 2017, Rex Tillerson got wind of a secret military plot aiming at conquering Qatar, The intercept reports citing anonymous current members of the U.S. intelligence community and two former State Department officials.
The former top diplomat intervened through several phone calls to Saudi Arabia, namely then-Deputy Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman (MbS) and foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir not to attack Qatar or otherwise escalate hostilities, the sources told The Intercept.
MbS, according to the media, backtracked after becoming aware that the move could damage relations between Saudi Arabia and the U.S.
Qatar is host to the US largest military base in the region. The Al Udeid Air Base near Doha, Qatar’s capital city, is the U.S. counterterrorism central command in the region and is home to over 10,000 American troops.
Tillerson was informed about the secret military endeavor by Qatari officials who also updated the US embassy in Doha. Qatari undercover agents in Riyadh had earlier unveiled the invasion plan in which Saudi forces, backed by the UAE, should enter Qatar through the only land border and take position some 70 miles toward Doha, “Circumventing the U.S. air base, Saudi forces would then seize the capital.”
The abortion of the plan enraged Mohammed bin Zayed, the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince, The Intercept said.
The UAE ambassador to Washington Yousef Al Otaiba, who is very influential at the White House, was reportedly aware of Trillerson’s removal three months before he was fired.