On Tuesday, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said neighbor Qatar should support the presence of U.S. military forces in Syria.
"Qatar has to pay for the U.S. military presence in Syria and send their military forces there before the U.S. president withdraws his protection to Qatar," the minister said in a statement, cited by the Saudi Press Agency.
Al-Jubeir’s remarks were made following comments by U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron in a joint statement during an official visit. Trump recently announced Washington's intention to withdraw some 2,000 active U.S. soldiers in Syria, saying the Middle Eastern countries should step up their contribution "to establish stability" in Syria.
Trump focused on "countries that are in the area, some of which are immensely wealthy" that should fill the gap after the United States withdraws from the region.
"They wouldn't last a week. We're protecting them," the U.S. leader said, adding that "we've spoken to them. They will pay for it. The United States will not continue to pay. And they will also put soldiers on the ground, which they're not doing."
The Saudi foreign minister's statement reiterated Trump's remark that Qatar must “send its military forces (to Syria) before the U.S. president cancels U.S. protection of Qatar, which consists of the presence of a U.S. military base on its territory.”
Washington has reached out to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, asking them to fund Syria's redevelopment as well as deploy troops in the area, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
The United States currently has approximately 10,000 servicemen stationed at Al-Udeid air base near Doha.
"Colleagues in the U.S. Department of Defense are reluctant to mention the word permanent, but we are working from our side to make it permanent," Qatari defense minister said, in January, regarding the presence of U.S. troops at the base.
Al-Udeid is the largest U.S. military base in the Middle East.
Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been engaged in diplomatic conflict since June 2017, when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Yemen cut ties with the country over claims that it supports terrorism.
Trump, at the time, fueled the fire saying Qatar was a “high-level sponsor of terrorism.”