EXCLUSIVE: President Trump is considering calling a Camp David-style summit to address growing tensions among long-established U.S. allies in the Arab world and renew his call for those nations to confront the “crisis of Islamic extremism,” Fox News has learned.
The gathering would follow Saudi Arabia, Egypt and five other Muslim countries severing diplomatic and commercial relations with Qatar. The regional powers had accused the tiny Gulf state of funding terrorism – blasting Qatar for allegedly boosting groups like ISIS, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and working with Iran to destabilize the region.
Fox News has learned that the White House is discussing several options for overcoming the dispute including a broad summit modeled on the 1978 Camp David peace accords that led to the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.
“It’s a Camp David moment. We’ve seen nothing like this in 40 years, and now the president wants to follow through,” a senior White House official told Fox News.
In what might be seen as a warning for many countries in the region, the senior White House official told Fox News that the president is interested in behavior modification, and “not just Qatar’s.”
“The president now wants to bring all the key players to Washington,” he said. “They need to disavow groups like the [Muslim] Brotherhood for the stability of the Middle East at large. It’s not just about Qatari elements funding the Brotherhood but disavowing support for extremism in general,” he said.
Qatar has denied allegations of supporting terrorism.
Discussions over the issue are ongoing. When asked about a date for the possible summit, the senior White House official told Fox News the “iron is still hot” after the president’s Islamist extremism speech last month in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh.
That historic speech is where Trump had called on U.S. allies in the region to confront the “crisis of Islamic extremism.”
Following the diplomatic cut-off with Qatar by the Saudi-led alliance, the country has been criticized for its support of groups including the Muslim Brotherhood, which is outlawed in Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi and the United Arab Emirates (UAE.) According to a report in the Financial Times of London, Qatar recently was given a list of 13 demands by the Arab allies, which included pulling back relations with Iran.
A Middle East expert who is close to the White House and has been briefed on some details of the summit told Fox News that the meeting being discussed would be a move to restore American alliances weakened during the Obama years.
The White House plans are being formulated partly in response to calls in the Middle East for re-invigorated American leadership.
“The four major allies within the alliance, Egypt, Saudi, UAE and Bahrain, as well as other moderates, are the ones who have been complaining to Washington for years over the protection and funding the Muslim Brotherhood has been obtaining from Qatar,” said Walid Phares, a Fox News national security and foreign affairs expert.
“The core allies were certainly encouraged by the clear narrative by President Trump in Riyadh, and thus decided to address the Qatar-Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] problem,” he said. “The speech changed the narrative.”
Ben Evansky reports for Fox News on the United Nations and international affairs.
He can be followed @BenEvansky