Trump assails Qatar, despite Tillerson’s call for ‘calm’ in standoff

The New York Times reports: Reversing himself again, President Trump on Friday delivered a stinging rebuke to Qatar, accusing the Persian Gulf nation of being a “funder of terror at a very high level” and demanding that it cut off that money flow to rejoin the circle of responsible nations.

Mr. Trump’s comments undercut his secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, who has thrown himself into an effort to mediate a resolution to a bitter dispute between Qatar and several of its neighbors, including Saudi Arabia. Earlier on Friday, Mr. Tillerson called for “calm and thoughtful dialogue” to resolve the crisis.

The president’s comments were anything but that, and they suggested a continuing divide between Mr. Trump and his advisers about how best to deal with Qatar, which is arguably the nation’s most important military outpost in the Middle East. [Continue reading…]

Josh Rogin writes: Listening to Tuesday’s first ever State Department briefing by new spokeswoman Heather Nauert, one might get the impression that the United States is conducting traditional, balanced and even somewhat nuanced foreign policy on the world stage. The problem is, of course, that President Trump’s own statements on foreign policy destroy that image and there’s no effort by either side to address the resulting contradictions.

Nauert, a former Fox News host, waited five weeks before taking to the lectern to meet the State Department press corps, which is filled with seasoned diplomatic reporters steeped in the nuances of international issues. She was well prepared, firm but not combative and began by praising the diplomatic corps and the media for doing their jobs in service to the United States and the ideals America represents.

The press corps, in turn, treated her with respect without pulling punches, a clear effort to set the relationship on the right foot and give her time to adjust to the new spotlight. But as the briefing wore on, the sheer disconnect between what Nauert was explaining as State Department policy and what the White House and Trump have said was striking. [Continue reading…]

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