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US Pressure Prevented Saudi-Led, UAE-Backed Invasion of Qatar in 2017 - Reports

© Sputnik / Abdulkader Hajj / Go to the photo bankThe district of West Bay, Doha. File photo
The district of West Bay, Doha. File photo - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson persuaded Saudi Arabia last summer to call off a planned invasion of Qatar, according to the Intercept reports.

Tillerson intervened to stop a secret Saudi-led, United Arab Emirates (UAE)-backed plan to invade and conquer Qatar, according to one current member of the US Intelligence Community and two former State Department officials, the Intercept reported.

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Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain in June 2017 cut diplomatic ties with Qatar — which they accused of supporting terrorists — and closed down Qatar’s land, sea and air borders with Arab neighbors.

At about that time, or shortly afterward, Qatari intelligence agents working inside Saudi Arabia claimed to have discovered the invasion plan and notified Tillerson, according to the Intercept.

Tillerson then made a series of phone calls urging Saudi officials not to take military action against Qatar — calls that US officials then described as an attempt to negotiate an end to the diplomatic rupture, the article said.

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The article indicated that Tillerson acted before US and UK intelligence officials confirmed the plan for invasion "several months later."

"The plan, which was largely devised by the Saudi and UAE crown princes and was likely some weeks away from being implemented, involved Saudi ground troops crossing the land border into Qatar, and, with military support from the UAE, advancing roughly 70 miles toward Doha," the article said.

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The invasion would have circumvented Al Udeid Air Base — the forward headquarters of US Central Command and home to some 10,000 American troops — and seize the capital of Doha, according to the Intercept.

The Intercept contacted the departments of State and Defense, as well as the Saudis, UAE and Qatar in an unsuccessful attempt to confirm the planned invasion.

The article also claimed that Tillerson’s intervention angered Saudi and UAE officials and likely led to Tillerson’s departure from the Trump administration on December 1.

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