KUWAIT CITY — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Kuwait on Monday night to help defuse a feud between Qatar and other Arab nations that the United States worries is hampering the fight against the Islamic State and bolstering Iran’s standing.
After weeks of phone calls and meetings with Arab diplomats in Washington, urging them to set aside unreasonable demands and negotiate, Tillerson has thrown himself into the role of mediator in his first foray into shuttle diplomacy. Over the next three days he will shuttle between Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. He will return every night to Kuwait, a neutral country whose leader has attempted to help resolve the crisis.
“We are trying to solve an issue that concerns not just us but the entire world,” Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Ahmed al-Sabah said before meeting with Tillerson after his arrival.
The dispute erupted a month ago when Saudi Arabia and three other Arab countries broke off diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar, which hosts the largest U.S. military base in the region. The Arab allies have imposed a blockade by land, air and sea on Qatar. Iran has stepped in, allowing its tiny, oil-rich neighbor to use Iranian airspace.