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Are Trump and his cabinet members, specifically the President, the Defense Secretary, and the Secretary of State, united on the Saudi-Qatar conflict?

What is Trump's opinion on the issue and are there differences between their respective remarks? Is there any official position on the issue?

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    Unites States government is never united on any issue. – user4012 Jul 2 '17 at 14:11
  • any? even Daesh? – user 1 Jul 2 '17 at 14:27
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    They can't even have a united opinion of what to call it. Never mind whether they are a big threat. – user4012 Jul 2 '17 at 14:31
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    I'd be surprised if any cabinet was ever united in private on any issue. In public, a cabinet will normally adopt the agreed position. But even after they agree a public position, in private they'll probably still lobby for their personal view if it conflicts with the public one. This is just normal politics. – StephenG Jul 2 '17 at 19:31
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Not really initially, but yes afterwards.

Many news articles have noted that the White House doesn't seem to have a consensus on this initially, especially the split in opinions between Trump and his cabinet members.

The Washington Post:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on a Saudi Arabia-led bloc of Arab nations Friday to immediately ease their blockade of Qatar and urged all involved in the week-long Persian Gulf dispute to quickly resolve their differences, remarks that President Trump seemed to undercut less than an hour later.

(emphasis mine)

The Guardian:

But Trump’s tone struck a marked contrast with comments by the US secretary of state, who just an hour earlier urged Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain to ease their blockade of Qatar.

(emphasis mine)

However, Trump offered assistance in a phone call with the Qatari Emir a day after and his new tone seemed in line with his cabinet members.

Trump's new tone echoed that of his secretaries of Defense and State, who emphasized Tuesday the need for Gulf unity and the importance of the US partnership with Qatar, home to the Al Udeid Air Base, the main regional center for air missions against ISIS.


President Trump seemingly personally agrees with Saudi Arabia's decision, as evident from his tweets:

During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar - look!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/872062159789985792

So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding...

Twitter: https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/872084870620520448

...extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/872086906804240384

However, Trump seemed to have changed course afterwards, in a phone call with the Qatari Emir.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for the countries involved to ease the blockage and expect the countries to try to de-escalate the situation.

Others must also continue to eliminate factions of support for violent organizations within their own borders. Again, that was a commitment made by all at the summit. We call on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt to ease the blockade against Qatar.

[ ... ]

Our expectation is that these countries will immediately take steps to de-escalate the situation and put forth a good-faith effort to resolve their grievances they have with each other.

Defence Secretary James Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee that it is "very complex situation" and hoped for common ground to be found.

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It is sometimes unclear what constitutes official policy these days. Perhaps the closest thing that there is to an official policy is the statement by the Whitehouse Spokesman:

"The U.S. still wants to see this issue de-escalated and resolved immediately, in keeping with the principles that the president laid out in terms of defeating terror financing and extremism."

The President has implied that Saudi Arabia took action against Qatar at his instigation:

So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!

And later:

"The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level, [... Arab leaders talked] about confronting Qatar over its behavior."

There is a clear difference between the position taken by Tillerson: That the dispute should be settled as soon as possible, and that taken by the president.

Difference between the President and the Pentagon are nothing new. Obama's Whitehouse was significantly more risk averse than the pentagon. However Trump's style of adminsitration brings these differences in opinion and emphasis into the public domain. In the past the president and his executive would try to reach an agreed position, and the press would analyse statements to try to find signs of disagreement. Now Trump tweets first and discusses later.

Sources

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/24/qatar-blockade-trump-administration-foreign-policy

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/06/us-policy-qatar/529866/

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