The biggest indicator that Rex Tillerson should probably just walk, due to a lack of respect for his position is the continued existence of Jared Kushner as senior White House adviser.
One of many huge indicators that Jared Kushner is in over his head and that nepotism is really bad policy is the negotiations going on right now between Kushner and the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
So what are they talking about?
According to Bloomberg:
The central goal of the Kushner-Prince Mohammed negotiations, as described by two people with knowledge of the talks, is for an historic agreement featuring the creation of a Palestinian state or territory backed financially by a number of countries including Saudi Arabia, which could put tens of billions of dollars toward the effort.
A lasting Middle East peace treaty has been a U.S. goal for decades, and at the start of his administration Trump assigned the 36-year-old Kushner to head up the effort to make it happen.
Meanwhile, Tillerson is [rightly] freaking out. For starters, they’re not keeping the nation’s top diplomat in the loop. This is Kushner taking off on his own, doing his own thing. Daddy Trump gave him the green light.
Secondly, this is an incredibly sensitive issue, and that region is volatile, on its good days. Tillerson is afraid Kushner is going to bungle it so bad that all hell breaks loose.
Let’s consider this: The Palestinians are nomads that have staked claim and based their entire existence on hating Israel, attempting to kill as many Jews as possible.
Also, Saudi Arabia and all the nations Kushner is trying to bring together as a working unit, pouring money and resources into making the Palestinian state strong are nations that share the Palestinians’ dream of obliterating Israel. At what point did Kushner get it in his head that this was a good idea?
“The problem is, the senior presidential adviser does not consult with the State Department — and it’s unclear the level of consultation that goes on with the NSC,” one of the people familiar with Tillerson’s concerns said, referring to the National Security Council. “And that’s a problem for both the NSC and the State Department and it’s not something we can easily solve.”
The concerns predate reports this week that Trump may move to oust Tillerson by the end of the year — reports the president rejected but which Tillerson’s team believes are being stoked by Kushner allies, one person said. An administration official said Kushner had nothing to do with those reports.
It wouldn’t be the first time Kushner has tried to stir up trouble within the administration, all because he saw a little extra push for himself out of causing trouble.
Tillerson and the State Department are concerned about Saudi Arabia seeing Kushner as a way to regain influence in the White House, and see some developments that indicate the moves are already being made.
Those include summoning Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to Riyadh, where he initially resigned only to postpone his decision upon returning to Beirut; the arrest and detention of dozens of Saudi princes, ministers and businessmen on corruption charges; and a more aggressive posture in the war in Yemen. Indeed, Trump tweeted his support for the anti-graft crackdown and the White House has offered only muted comments on Hariri and the conflict in Yemen.
A White House official said Kushner was not aware in advance of the Saudi moves and gave no signal of approval beforehand.
Yeah, maybe before getting into such serious negotiations with them, he should be fully aware of the things they’re doing.
Tillerson is concerned that Saudi Arabia may want to act with a freer hand in Qatar, moving beyond its economic embargo to pursue military action, according to the people. One risk is that such a move could have any number of unpredictable and dangerous consequences, including inflamed tensions with Russia and Turkey, an armed response from Iran, or a missile attack on Israel by Iran-backed Hezbollah.
In recent weeks, Tillerson has attempted to put the brakes on key parts of any potential plan, the people said, saying he is does not want the Saudis to get mixed messages from U.S. diplomats and the president’s son-in-law.
The White House is blowing off the notion of Tillerson and the State Department being left in the dark.
“This description of our potential plan and conversations is flat out false. While we have obviously discussed economic support for a potential peace deal from many countries, not just Saudi Arabia, we have never discussed specific numbers with other countries and we have not linked a deal to Qatar,” Jason Greenblatt, the president’s Mideast envoy, said in an emailed statement. “Anybody who is suggesting these details or linkage were discussed is not in the know.”
Yeah. I think that’s exactly the complaint. They’re not “in the know” because what should be a job for the State Department is being handled by the president’s son-in-law.
Kushner does check in with the State Department to tell Tillerson what he’s doing, but the fear is that the information he’s passing on is incomplete. He’s not telling him about the details of the negotiations.
For that matter, Tillerson doesn’t believe Trump is even being informed about what Kushner is doing.
Kushner has grown close to the Saudi prince, so there’s this fear that he’s promised him things that he doesn’t have the authority to promise.
The State Department officials’ skepticism about the Middle East discussions also reveals ongoing frustration at the president’s decision to go around them and the U.S. diplomatic corps he frequently disparages. Instead, Trump placed delicate peace negotiations in the hands of Kushner, who has no experience in diplomacy and little background in the complexities of one of the world’s most volatile regions.
Yet Trump, who has long spoken of Mideast peace as the ultimate trophy for a career dealmaker, has shown unwavering faith in his son-in-law’s ability to deliver.“If you can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can,” the president told Kushner onstage at a black-tie event celebrating his inauguration in January. “All my life I’ve been hearing that’s the toughest deal to make, but I have a feeling Jared is going to do a great job.”
I don’t know if that’s more naïve, reckless, ignorant, or a dangerous combination of all three. It most certainly shows an alarming lack of understanding of the region.
But, hey. Nepotism.