Qatar's credit rating cut over Gulf blockade crisis

Frederick Owens
June 11, 2017

President Donald Trump on Wednesday formally extended an offer to help mediate the situation during a phone call with Qatari leader, Amir Sheikh Tameem Bin Hamad Al Thani.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shortly before Trump's remarks said the Gulf countries' land and air blockade of Doha was hurting the campaign against IS, an assessment Pentagon officials only partially corroborated.

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen were the first to cut their ties accusing Qatar of destabilising the region.

Asked about the impact of the measures taken this week against Qatar, Al-Thani said his country could survive "forever", adding that Qatar respected worldwide agreements and would continue to supply liquefied natural gas - its top export - to the United Arab Emirates.

"This is not about regime change - this is about change of policy, change of approach", state minister for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash said.

On Thursday, Qatar's Sheikh Mohammed said his country had been isolated "because we are successful and progressive" and called his country "a platform for peace not terrorism".

Kuwait's emir is working to mediate the Gulf crisis around Qatar, which is home to a major USA military base and the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Tillerson also said the blockade by Qatar's neighbors was "hindering US military action in the region, and the campaign against ISIS", using an acronym for the Islamic State group.

But when it comes to Qatar's foreign policy, "no one has the right to intervene", said Sheikh Mohammed.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain gave Qatari citizens 14 days to leave and closed their airspace to all Qatari flights.

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Also on Friday Saudi Arabia and its three allies issued a list of 49 people - including Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi - and 12 Qatar-backed charities and groups accused of links with militants.

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the federal minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources, said Qatar and Pakistan last year signed a $1 billion agreement, under which Qatar's Liquefied Gas Company Limited will sell LNG from 2016 to year 2031 to state-run Pakistan State Oil.

While the United States has not been formally asked to involve itself in the situation, Trump administration officials are pushing for Qatar and the Gulf countries to find a solution, primarily one that sees Doha ending its financial support for terror groups.

Turkey has meanwhile brought forward a planned troop deployment to Qatar and pledged to provide food and water supplies to its Arab ally, which hosts a Turkish military base.

Trump has moved the US even closer to Saudi Arabia. Qatar says the allegations are based on lies.

Addressing a White House news conference, the president said Qatar had "historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level".

An Emirati writer and ruling family member suggested Qataris already are looking for new leadership in the tiny country.

The Qatari ambassador to Washington, Meshal Hamad al-Thani, wrote on Twitter that a key pillar of Doha's foreign policy was mediation. So we had a decision to make.

Those nations, most notably Saudi Arabia, disagree with Qatar over the role of Islamist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as Iran. Qatar's emir has said such a view is a big mistake.

The government of Qatar has hired John Ashcroft, the U.S. attorney general during the September 11 attacks, as it seeks to rebut accusations from U.S. President Donald Trump and its Arab neighbors that it supports terrorism. Riyadh denied any involvement.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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