US Ambassador to Qatar to leave role amid regional crisis

Six neighbouring nations have cut diplomatic ties with the Gulf monarchy

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The Independent US

The US Ambassador to Qatar has announced she is leaving her role amid a tense situation in the region.

Ambassador Dana Shell Smith's tweet - where she says her time at the State Department is ending later this month - comes just a week after several Gulf nations cut diplomatic ties with Qatar over the small monarchy’s alleged financial ties to terrorist groups.

She has been the head diplomat in Doha for the last three years, having been appointed by President Barack Obama.

Normally, Ambassadors serve in three-year terms.

The US State Department said in an email to The Hill newspaper that Ms Smith’s “assignment as Ambassador comes to an end this month and she will depart Qatar later this month as part of the normal rotation of career diplomats throughout the world”.

“We wish her the best as she moves on from the Department of State.”

Ms Smith has not given an indication whether the ongoing crisis or the Trump administration played any part in the move. 

Egypt has long thought Qatar’s support of Islamist groups Muslim Brotherhood was dangerous for their country.

Saudi Arabia also re-ignited tensions over Doha’s alleged support for Iran, which has been at odds with Saudi Arabia. The Maldives, United Arab Emirates, Libya, Bahrain and Yemen joined in coordinated effort to cut ties.

Iran then blamed Donald Trump for setting the stage for the diplomatic mess during his recent trip to Riyadh.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asked that the six nations in the anti-Qatari effort “ease the blockade against Qatar” and requested that Doha be “responsive” to its neighbors concerns over terror financing.

However, just hours later Mr Trump applauded the coalition and said Qatar was “a funder of terrorism at a very high level” and even raised the possibility that the cutting of ties was due to his urging that Middle East countries more effectively address financing terrorists during his Riyadh trip.

Ms Smith re-tweeted Mr Tillerson’s comments but not the President’s tweets.  

Ms Smith also gained attention when she tweeted in the wake of Donald Trump’s sacking of former FBI Director James Comey that it was getting “increasingly difficult” to do the job of a diplomat in “explaining our democracy and institutions”.

She also said when domestic “partisan acrimony [is] so high” the work of the foreign service “can be tough”.

She also retweeted Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s tweet in response to Mr Trump’s criticism of London Mayor Sadiq Khan in the wake of the London Bridge attack.

Ms Smith nor the US embassy in Qatar have responded to a request for comment.