Trump slams Qatar for funding terror as Tillerson urges calm
- Author: Darren Santiago Jun 21, 2017,
Jun 21, 2017, 1:59
He cited comments by world leaders including U.S. President Donald Trump who took to Twitter on Tuesday to implicate Qatar and praise its isolation. "No more funding", the president said. "As for Saudi complaints about Qatar funding terrorism, it's hard to take them seriously since Saudi Arabia's activities in this respect are all too well known", foreign affairs analyst and political commentator Dan Lazare said.
"The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level", Trump said, echoing an allegation the Saudi-led group has used to justify cutting diplomatic ties to the tiny gas-rich kingdom. "We have to stop the funding of terrorism". The State Department had said the USA learned only at the last minute about the Arab nations' plan to cut ties. "Qatar is clearly uneasy about the aggressive new Saudi-US policy that Trump announced in last month's visit to Riyadh", he stated.
"The time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding - they have to end that funding - and its extremist ideology in terms of funding", Trump said. "But the Saudis are inconsistent since they back the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate in Yemen al-Islah", he said.
With food and other supplies disrupted and worries mounting about deepening economic turbulence, banks and firms in Gulf Arab states are seeking to keep business links to Qatar open and avoid a costly firesale of assets. But at the Pentagon, a spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said only long-term military planning was affected.
On Thursday night, Erdogan ratified two deals on deploying Turkish troops to Qatar and training its gendarmerie after they were passed by Turkey's parliament a day earlier.
Still, the Pentagon has been developing contingency plans in case there's any interruption, defense officials said. Turkey, like Kuwait, has offered to mediate.
The crisis has thrust the USA into a delicate position because of its alliances with all sides - and because Qatar hosts the nerve center for US air operations in the Middle East, including the fight against Islamic State.
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There was no immediate response for a request for comment on that demand from a Qatari official.
After severance of diplomatic ties earlier this week, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has chose to ban any form of sympathy with the tiny Gulf State of Qatar, threatening sympathizers with jail terms of up to 15 years and an AED 500 thousand fine. Qatar's neighbors have also criticized Qatar for allegedly supporting groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
"It could force Qatar to abandon its foreign policy objectives - or it could convince Qatar that it's surrounded by bullies and the US won't protect it and a closer alliance with Turkey and Iran could guarantee its long-term viability", Kamel said. He added that Qatar is leading an "effective fight" against terrorism.
The spat has led to one of the worst Gulf crises in decades, with suspended flights and regional ports closed to Qatari ships.
In an effort to show the president and the top USA diplomat are literally on the same page despite the different tone they took throughout the week, the White House gave reporters a sheet juxtaposing quotes from Trump on the Qatar situation with similar comments from Tillerson.
"The elements of a solution are available", Tillerson said at the State Department.