Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir has said that Qatar should pay for the presence of US military forces in Syria, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on April 24.
Jubeir’s statement was allegedly based on remarks by US President Donald Trump during a joint press conference with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macaron.
SPA reported that “Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir announced that Qatar should pay the voucher of the price of US military forces’ presence in Syria, and to send its military forces there, before the US President lifts American protection of the State of Qatar, embodied in the presence of US military base, on its soils.
The Foreign Minister reasserted US President utterance that if the US is to withdraw its protection, represented in the military base located in Qatar, then that regime will fall, within less than a week.”
On April 17, Saudi Arabia declared its readiness to send troops into Syria as part of the US-led coalition if a decision is taken to widen it.
On April 16, the WSJ claimed that Washington had allegedly requested Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to devote billions of dollars for reconstruction efforts in the US-occupied part of Syria and had asked Gulf states to contribute troops to an Arab force that would replace US troops in the war-torn country.
On April 4, the US Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS Brett H. McGurk hinted about Trump’s plan to replace the US forces in Syria by the Arab ones. He noted that the move had “required” U.S officials “to go to our coalition partners and remind them that their coalition has a big role to play” in bringing peace to the Middle East. He indicated that the Trump administration had been pushing for “regional ownership” of the Middle East conflicts.
On April 3, Trump said the USA and its regional allies would soon decide how much longer the US troops should remain in Syria:
“Saudi Arabia is very interested in our decision,” Trump stated,
“I said: ‘Well, you want us to stay, maybe you’re going to have to pay.’”
Despite all these claims, Washington is expanding its military infrastructure in Syria in a move that does not look as a part of the troops withdrawal plan.
For example, a US military installation is now under construction in the oil-rich part of Deir Ez-Zor province, according to the state-run Russian news agency Sputnik report on March 27, quoting the press secretary of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Mehdi Kobani. Another major exaple of the US troops withdrawal is a new military base in the area between Tell Baydar and Tell Tamr in northern Syria.
At the same time, Saudi Arabia’s hostile remarks on Qatar are another example of the current diplomatic crisis between the two states that started in 2017. Since then, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have still not been able to find a common ground to improve the relations.