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In a rebuke to the countries boycotting Qatar, the US has suspended military exercises with its Gulf allies.

According to the Associated Press, US Central Command said the aim is to show that the military wants its allies in the region to work together.

“We are opting out of some military exercises out of respect for the concept of inclusiveness and shared regional interests,” the newswire cited Col. John Thomas, a Centcom spokesman, as saying.

Qatar is home to the largest US air base in the Middle East. President Donald Trump initially supported the blockade against Qatar in June.

But US officials are now working to end the months-long dispute.

Will it work?

GCC nations have not commented on the decision.

But analysts said it could be perceived as a “slap in the face” to the boycotting nations, which include Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.

The Qatar Insider

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Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Andreas Krieg, assistant professor at King’s College in London for defense studies and a former adviser to Qatar’s military said:

“Joint military exercises are essential for the Gulf militaries to build capability.

All Gulf states want to appeal to the U.S. as viable partners in achieving joint strategic interests, so this announcement is really a slap in the face,” he said.

Another analyst told the AP that the US appears to be running out of patience because the dispute is distracting from its war on terrorism.

One theory is that the Pentagon could step up pressure for reconciliation by freezing weapon sales to Gulf nations, as an American lawmaker suggested months ago.

Thoughts?

Mandalay Bay Resort

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Qatari officials have denounced this week’s shooting in Las Vegas, saying they stand with the US in its efforts to “maintain security and stability.”

The attack killed at least 59 people and injured 500 others, and is being called the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.

Police said the gunman was Stephen Craig Paddock, a 64-year-old white Nevada resident who killed himself when officers stormed his hotel room.

Islamic State has claimed credit for the attack, but offered no evidence. American authorities say it appears Paddock acted alone.

Condolences

In a statement, Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also expressed condolences to the families of the victims, Gulf Times reports.

The Emir and several other senior officials also sent their sympathies to US President Donald Trump and those affected.

Qatar’s national carrier is expected to begin flying directly to Las Vegas next year.

Thoughts?

MBA_AlThani/Twitter

Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in 2016.

The turmoil caused by the Gulf dispute is unwisely bringing Qatar closer to Iran, the nation’s foreign minister has said.

According to Reuters, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told reporters in France:

“They said Qatar was now closer to Iran. By their measures they are pushing Qatar to Iran. They are giving Iran, or any regional force, Qatar like a gift.”

Al Thani added, “Is that their objective, to push one country, a GCC member state toward Iran? This is not a wise objective.”

The minister was in France yesterday to attend a discussion hosted by the French Institute of International Relations.

Stronger economic ties

After an air, space and land blockade of Qatar was imposed by its neighbors in June, the country began seeking new trade routes and partners.

Iran was among the countries that offered its airspace, as well as food and dairy imports.

Blondinrikard Fröberg/Flickr

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The nation is a longtime rival of Saudi Arabia, but has been on cordial terms with Qatar for years. This in part because they share the enormous underwater South Pars gas field.

However, the countries do not see eye-to-eye on several political matters, including the war in Syria.

Qatar sides with the rebels, while Iran has been supporting embattled President Bashar Al Assad.

Thoughts?