this is gonna be worse than the turks/kurds snarl-up, much worse

Pentagon praises Qatar, despite Trump tweet
Phil Stewart, Reuters, Jun 6 2017

FASCHINGSTEIN – The Pentagon on Tuesday renewed praise of Qatar for hosting a vital USAF base and for its “enduring commitment to regional security,” sticking to a message of reassurance even as Pres Trump tweeted applause for a decision by Arab powers to cut ties to the Gulf ally. It was the latest example of the tightrope that Pindo boxtops are walking as Trump’s tweets raise questions about existing policy and the carefully-scripted talking-points used to explain it. In the case of Qatar, the stakes are high. More than 11,000 Pindo and coalition forces are deployed to or assigned to al-Udeid Air Base, from which more than 100 aircraft operate. Of those 11,000, nearly 1,000 work in a combined air operations center that helps oversee missions for campaigns in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, the military says. Pindo boxtops had said on Monday that Pindostan would quietly try to calm the waters between Toads and Thanis, arguing that the small Gulf state was too important to Pindo military and diplomatic interests to be isolated. But Trump, wading into the worst split between powerful Arab states in decades, said on Tuesday his trip to the Middle East was “already paying off” with leaders there taking a hard new line in accusing Qatar of funding of militant groups. The Pentagon, which seeks to steer clear of political matters, was unable to reconcile Trump’s support for Qatar’s isolation with its own praise for its commitment to regional security. Asked directly about the disconnect, spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis told a news briefing:

I can’t help you with that. We continue to be grateful to the Qataris for their long-standing support for our presence and their enduring commitment to regional security. We have no plans to alter our presence in Qatar.

The Pindosi envoy to Qatar, Dana Shell Smith, retweeted on Monday a message from October in which she praised the Pindo partnership with Qatar, citing “real progress to counter terrorist financing.” USAF Secretary Heather Wilson told a Senate committee on Tuesday she was not concerned about the air base in Qatar and that air operations continued without interruption. The Pentagon declined to answer a question about whether Qatar supported terrorism, the accusation made by Arab states who appeared to now have the political backing of the President. Davis said:

I’m not the right person to ask that. I consider them a host to our very important base at al Udeid.

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