U.S. urges Gulf states to ease restrictions

Alvin Kelly
June 14, 2017

"We call on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt to ease the blockade against Qatar", Tillerson said.

Saudi Arabia said an immediate change of policy by Qatar was essential.

The announcement increases pressure on Qatar in a diplomatic and economic campaign to isolate the small Gulf Arab state, which is a critical global supplier of gas and hosts the biggest US military base in the Middle East. The base houses almost 10,000 U.S. troops and is the forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command. Bahrain has been gripped by a government crackdown on dissent for over a year now. Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousef al-Qaradawi was among those included. "It is wrong to add more crises as the Islamic world struggles with many other difficulties", Erdogan said at an event in Istanbul. One is the brother of the Gamaa Isalmiya assassin who killed Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat in 1981.

The statement from Saudi Arabia and its allies said: "This list is connected to Qatar and serves suspicious agendas in an indication of the duality of Qatar policies".

Names involving Libya include militia commanders and the Benghazi Defense Brigade, which is battling forces commanded by Gen. Khalifa Hifter, who has the backing of Egypt and the UAE amid that country's chaos. The State Department had said the us learned only at the last minute about the Arab nations' plan to cut ties.

"Qatar has a history of supporting groups that have spanned the spectrum of political expression, from activism to violence", said the secretary. The official said that Trump supports easing the blockade for humanitarian reasons and would like to build a productive relationship with the emir of Qatar.

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In addition to the humanitarian and military effects, Tillerson said the blockade is affecting USA and global companies' abilities to operate in the region.

"There is a continuous escalation from these countries. but our strategic options are still diplomacy and dialogue", added Sheikh Mohammed, after holding talks with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.

While much of the administration's rhetoric has focused on Qatar, Tillerson also called on Qatar's neighbors to end their blockade. The expanding crisis has since drawn in Turkey, Russia and Iran. On Wednesday, Emirati officials shut down the airline's offices in the UAE.

Erdogan also approved another accord between Turkey and Qatar on military training cooperation late on Thursday.

"I decided with Rex Tillerson that the time had come to call on Qatar to end funding and extremist ideology in terms of funding", he said.

Taking what appeared to be a different position to Trump's hard line, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made clear on Friday he expected all parties to end the crisis.

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