Tillerson Calls for Middle East Countries to Ease the Qatar Blockade

Gladys Abbott
June 20, 2017

"They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar", said Trump.

The Turkish leader has urged Saudi Arabia, as "the largest and most powerful state in the Gulf", to reduce tensions and lift sanctions.

Earlier on Friday, Tillerson asked Saudi Arabia and its allies to halt the blockade because of "humanitarian consequences" and also because it was "hindering United States military actions in the region and the campaign against Isis". Tillerson however, tried to emphasize the humanitarian consequences of the blockade, including food shortages.

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".

US President Donald Trump, who initially offered to help Qatar mediate through the crisis, also attacked Doha, accusing the monarchy of sponsoring terrorism. "They have to end that funding".

A US official, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, declined to say whether the USA backs removing the emir of Qatar. Trump said. "We had to stop the funding of terrorism".

The unexpected moves by Qatar's closest neighbours and allies caught the region by surprise. Saudi Arabia and Egypt regard the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. Qatar's rulers were "trying to describe this as an issue about the independence of their foreign policy, and it is not", he said. Meanwhile, UAE authorities have warned their citizens that anyone expressing public sympathy for Qatar could face 15 years in prison, the BBC reports. Tillerson said the US was asking Qatar to "be responsive to the concerns of its neighbors".

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties and transportation links with Qatar on Monday. He added that the blockade is "impairing USA and other global business activities in the region".

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"We call on Qatar to be responsive to the concerns of its neighbors", he said, speaking shortly after Saudi Arabia placed members of Qatar's royal family on a "terror list".

Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani called the moves by Arab neighbours and others "clear violations of global law and worldwide humanitarian law".

"We can not be happy in a situation when the relations between our partners are worsening".

"While current operations from Al Udeid Air Base have not been interrupted or curtailed, the evolving situation is hindering our ability to plan for longer-term military operations", said Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesperson, said in a statement.

He said he had been consulted in advance by nations that "spoke to me about confronting Qatar", a country he said historically has been a "funder of terrorism at a very high level".

The crisis is a major diplomatic test for the United States, which is a close ally of countries on both sides.

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.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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