Retired General Anthony Zinni, the Trump administration’s envoy working to resolve the Gulf region’s diplomatic dispute, has resigned from his role at the State Department.
Two State Department officials told CNN that Zinni left because he felt he had reached a dead-end, believing there was no forward movement on resolving the stalemate between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors. The sources claim Zinni did not depart because of bad blood with other administration officials. Zinni confirmed in an email to CNN that the sources’ characterizations of his departure were correct.
“I did not think my services were needed,” he said.
CBS News first reported ZInni’s resignation.
Gulf nations, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen, severed ties with Qatar in 2017 over its alleged support for terrorist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced in early August 2017 that Zinni would travel to the region, telling the press that the US was “committed to see this disagreement resolved, restore Gulf unity, because we think it’s important to the long-term effort to defeat terrorism in the region.”
Zinni, who formerly led US Central Command, was also tasked with working on the Trump administration’s Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) initiative, which has been described as a so-called “Arab NATO.”
State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino said in a statement that efforts on both of those fronts would continue.
“General Zinni’s mission was to help introduce the concept of the Middle East Strategic Alliance and start a conversation with leaders in the region. That is happening and well underway thanks to his efforts. The Administration, through the interagency process led by the Department of State, will carry the mission forward. General Zinni has told us he remains available should the need arise,” Palladino said.
The news of Zinni’s departure comes as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is travelling in the region, including a stop in Qatar.
Zinni joins a growing list of national security personnel that have left the Trump administration over the past month, including former Defense Secretary James Mattis and Brett McGurk, the former special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS.