On Monday, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Yemen, Bahrain, and Egypt cut all commercial and diplomatic ties with Qatar in order to isolate the country over its support for extremist groups, the New York Times reports. In a series of tweets Tuesday morning, President Trump took credit for that decision, saying that it was "so good to see" and that his recent visit to Saudi Arabia was "already paying off." According to CNN, Qatar is an important US ally, and Trump hamstrung attempts by the Defense and State departments to remain neutral in the growing diplomatic crisis. Qatar is home to US Central Command forward headquarters, from which it launches airstrikes against the Islamic State. The Al Udeid military base is home to approximately 10,000 American troops.
Trump's statements against Qatar broke not only with the US' historically neutral stance in regards to such Gulf state conflicts, but with Trump himself. Less than a month ago, the president was complimentary toward Qatar and said the relationship between it and the US was "extremely good." Spokespeople for the State and Defense departments quickly issued statements saying the US is "grateful" to Qatar for its support of the US military. And Sean Spicer said the "US still wants to see this issue de-escalated and resolved," the BBC reports. Some Pentagon officials were reportedly shocked at Trump's comments, and it's possible Qatar will now make things more difficult for US military operations there. (For more on the isolation of Qatar and what it means for the Middle East, click here.)