UAE linked to efforts to get Donald Trump to fire Rex Tillerson over Qatar support, reveal emails

Leaked correspondence shows UAE-linked source close to US president called secretary of state a ‘tower of Jello’ that ‘needs to be slammed’ 

Tuesday 06 March 2018 15:55 GMT
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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been linked to efforts to get US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson removed from his post for his attempts at mediation in the Gulf states’ feud with the kingdom of Qatar, leaked emails have revealed.

Correspondence obtained by the BBC from the inbox of Elliott Broidy, a major donor of President Donald Trump with millions’ of dollars’ worth of UAE business links, show that he met with Mr Trump in October 2017 and told that the US leader Mr Tillerson was “performing poorly and should be fired at a politically convenient time”.

He also reportedly called Mr Tillerson, the former CEO of oil giant Exxon Mobil, “weak” and a “tower of Jello”, that “needs to be slammed”.

A blow-by-blow account of the meeting was sent to dual Lebanese-American national George Nader, who has recently been speculated to be person of interest in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election which bought Mr Trump to office.

He also reportedly suggested Mr Trump meet with Abu Dhabi’s powerful crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed as well as UAE military commanders to discuss setting up a regional counter-terrorism force.

Mr Broidy also met with Mr Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner around the same time, he said, although Mr Kushner “seemed to not want to engage on this issue [of the Qatari blockade]”.

A spokesperson for Mr Broidy told the BBC the business leader’s emails had been hacked by “both registered and unregistered” agents of Qatar to “punish Mr Broidy for his strong opposition to state-sponsored terrorism”. Some of the emails “may have been altered”, he added.

Qatari government representatives categorically denied hacking Mr Broidy’s email, calling the claim a “baseless accusation”.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt abruptly cut off all diplomatic and trade ties with tiny Qatar in June last year, alleging that the state interfered in the affairs of its neighbours and funded terror organisations.

In initial crisis talks Mr Tillerson travelled to the region for mediation purposes, calling the the blockade to be eased – a stance that contradicted Mr Trump’s initial support for the Saudi-led initiative.

Saudi Arabia cuts ties with Qatar over terror links

Qatar is home to the US’s largest military base in the region, from which Middle East operations including anti-Isis air strikes are conducted.

Relations between Mr Trump and Mr Tillerson have appeared strained during the first year of the President’s tenure, with reports circulating last November that the White House was preparing to fire the Secretary of State. Mr Tillerson was forced to deny he called the President a “moron” late last year.

It was reported on Tuesday that the Gulf states are considering relaxing the boycott by allowing freedom of movement for affected civilians ahead of a more wide-ranging deal.

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