Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Tillerson calls on Arab nations to ease blockade on Qatar

Freda Brock | 10 June, 2017, 15:16

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement Friday that he expects the nations now involved in a blockade against Qatar to deescalate the situation. And now they have the explicit backing of President Donald Trump as he tries to toughen the U.S. stance on Iran.

The terrorist designations, also enacted by Bahrain and Egypt, were announced early on Friday, after the Turkish parliament approved accelerated plans to send troops to the country's base in Qatar, and as Doha called for United States president Donald Trump to mediate. He said that while he was meeting with Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia last month and calling for them to unify against extremism, they had "pointed" at Qatar as a terrorism funder. "We lead the region in attacking the roots of terrorism", the Qatari statement said. The state airline Qatar Airways has been forced to suspend its flights to the countries that imposed the blockade. On sectarian grounds also, Sunni-dominated Arab countries are mainly unhappy with Qatar's growing relations with Shia-dominated Iran.

In a press conference called Friday, Tillerson called on Saudi Arabia and a group of Arab countries on Friday to immediately "ease their blockade" of Qatar and "put forth a good faith effort to resolve the grievances they have with each other". The nations withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar and cut off air, sea and land travel to the peninsular nation, which is rich in oil but depends heavily on imported food.

CBS News has confirmed the Federal Bureau of Investigation is helping Qatar's government investigate a breach of a state-run news outlet that ran the fake story. The Riyadh summit - where Trump showered Qatar with praise - left no hints that a rift of this magnitude was about to erupt. A June 7 report by CNN said intelligence collected by FBI investigators indicated Russian hackers planted the fake news attributing false statements to the emir.

Qatar is home to the largest USA military base in the region. Adrian Rankine-Galloway said the tumultuous regional spat would have "no impact" on American military operations in the region, according to Voice of America.

JEDDAH: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Qatar must do more, "more quickly" to combat extremism.

Those comments stood in contrast to the more nuanced, de-escalatory comments of Tillerson, who was also in the Rose Garden during Trump's remarks.

May to form government with help of Democratic Unionist party
With the DUP providing the Conservatives a narrow, but crucial, majority in Parliament, it could have an outsized influence. A coalition of chaos perhaps? She said: "Our two parties have enjoyed a strong relationship over many years".

He demanded that Qatar, as well as the other nations, take steps to curtail support for terrorism.

Initially when the Gulf States descended on Qatar, America tried to play a reconciliatory role.

"Qatar has a history of supporting groups that have spanned the spectrum of political expression from activism to violence", Mr Tillerson said. Trump says he consulted with Saudi Arabia and others on a recent trip to Riyadh, and made a decision to call out Qatar for its "very high level" of terror financing.

After speaking with leaders in the region, Tillerson said Friday in Washington that he believes the countries involved in the dispute - all USA allies - are stronger together, and "the elements of a solution are available".

In his desperation to take credit for Saudi's move, to showcase it as an example of his ability to shape global events, Trump appears to be throwing Qatar under the bus. The Qatari government has bankrolled the Muslim Brotherhood and affiliated groups with billions of dollars across the Middle East. Qatar was a key supporter of the Mohamed Morsi-led regime in Egypt, and members of the Egyptian Brotherhood have lived in Doha for decades. "Qatar and its big rivals are fighting each other, but indirectly and on other people's territory", said Yemeni analyst Farea al-Muslimi. A Pentagon spokesman praised the Qataris' "enduring commitment to regional security", while a State Department spokesman characterized the usa relationship with Qatar as "strong" and commended Qatar's efforts to curb terrorist financing.

But Tillerson said the crisis was indeed affecting the US military.

Qatar long has denied supporting or funding terror groups.

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