US Secretary of State Tillerson kicks off first leg of Middle Eastern junket in Jordan

US Secretary of State Tillerson kicks off first leg of Middle Eastern junket in Jordan

Rex Tillerson arrives in Jordan today beginning his Middle East trip. High on the agenda will be the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar. Tillerson must juggle the competing interests of the Gulf states boycotting Qatar and states like Iran and Turkey who have provided significant assistance to Doha throughout the crisis. With the blockade over six

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Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Rex Tillerson arrives in Jordan today beginning his Middle East trip. High on the agenda will be the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar.

Tillerson must juggle the competing interests of the Gulf states boycotting Qatar and states like Iran and Turkey who have provided significant assistance to Doha throughout the crisis. With the blockade over six months old, Tillerson will be eager to resolve a crisis that has threatened the host of the largest US military base in the region.

In the last year, a blitz of lobbying by Qatar in Washington has resulted in the US tilting in its favour, signing agreements on counterterrorism cooperation and state financial disclosures. Anticipate meetings with Qatari defence and government officials who are expected to continue with recent financial disclosures and commitments to supporting the US military presence in the region.

With a costly war in Yemen and complex economic reforms on the domestic front, Saudi Arabia and its allies are unlikely to be able to do anything but loosen their blockade in the near term. Tillerson then, when meeting Egyptian and Jordanian leaders, will likely renew pressure on Saudi Arabia and other blockading states to justify their position.

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