Al-Monitor

Has Kushner given Riyadh carte blanche?

Diplomats and military chiefs worry Jared Kushner's peace play could be giving Saudis and Emiratis a sense of entitlement to take overreaching, hard-line actions that could destabilize the region.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner sits behind US President Donald Trump during a Cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, Nov. 1, 2017.(photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

WASHINGTON — Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have found themselves at odds of late with US State Department diplomats and Defense Department leadership, taking provocative actions by blockading Qatar; summoning Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri to Riyadh earlier this month, where he abruptly resigned; and blockading since Nov. 6 major Yemeni ports from desperately needed humanitarian aid shipments in retaliation for a Nov. 4 Houthi missile strike targeting Riyadh's international airport.

The State and Defense departments have urged Riyadh and Abu Dhabi to ease their pressure campaigns on Qatar and Lebanon and improve aid access in Yemen to avert catastrophic famine. But Saudi and Emirati officials have suggested to US diplomatic interlocutors that they feel they have at least tacit approval from the White House for their hard-line actions, in particular from President Donald.

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