U.S. Ambassador to Qatar Steps Down

by Abigail Williams /  / Updated 
Image: Khalid bin Mohammad Al-Attiyah,  James Mattis and Dana Shell Smith in Doha
Qatar's Minister of Defense Khalid bin Mohammad Al-Attiyah, right, welcomes U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and U.S. Ambassador to Qatar Dana Shell Smith, left, at his residence in Doha, Qatar on April 22, 2017.Jonathan Ernst / Pool via AP

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. ambassador to Qatar has stepped down — a departure that comes roughly a week after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates severed diplomatic relations with Doha citing that government's alleged support of terror and actions aimed at destabilizing the region.

Dana Shell Smith, announced via Twitter that she was leaving her post at the end of the month. A State Department spokesman told NBC News the ambassador's tour had come to an end and it was long known that she would be retiring.

Last week, after Trump tweeted criticism of Qatar and their financial support for terrorism, Shell Smith retweeted a previous comment from October 2016 about the "great partnership" with Qatar to "counter terrorist financing".

Speaking Friday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made similar remarks to the ambassador’s saying, “The emir of Qatar has made progress in halting financial support and expelling terrorist elements from his country,” but added that “he must do more and he must do it more quickly.”

Smith is a career member of the foreign service and was confirmed by the Senate as the U.S. Ambassador to Qatar on July 10, 2014. Previously, she served as principal deputy assistant secretary of public affairs from 2011 to 2014 and as deputy assistant secretary for international media.

Smith was previously in the spotlight when on May 9, the same day FBI director James Comey was fired, she tweeted that it's "increasingly difficult to wake up overseas to news from home, knowing I will spend today explaining our democracy and institutions."

Related: Trump Credits His Middle East Trip for Saudi-Led Diplomatic Break With Qatar

And then on May 10, after speculation arose from her previous tweet, she tweeted "Diplomats explain & defend our political system. Can be tough when partisan acrimony so high, but there is still no greater country. #USA"

Qatar houses the al-Udeid Air Base — home to roughly 10,000 American troops and a forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command. Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis did not directly answer last week when asked if Qatar is a supporter of terrorism saying instead, "They are host to our operational base."

Davis also declined to directly comment on the president's tweeted criticism of Doha, saying "we have no plans to change our posture in Qatar".

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