Qatar news agency hack ignites Arab rift

20 Juin, 2017, 16:18 | Author: Claudine Rigal
  • USA-TRUMP  SAUDI

Trump's condemnation of Qatar deviated sharply from the message delivered by his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, who only an hour earlier had called on Arab nations to ease their blockade on Qatar and had credited the kingdom with progress in curbing terror funding.

"His message was that we need unity in the region to fight extremist ideology and terrorist financing".

Speaking in Berlin, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir also said efforts would be made to resolve the conflict within the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Tensions surged between countries closer to Saudi Arabia (such as Bahrain, and Egypt) and others, such Qatar, with ties to Iran.

The Arab countries closed air, sea and land links with Qatar, barred the emirate's planes from their airspace and ordered Qatari citizens out within 14 days.

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Kuwait's ruler, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber al-Sabah, travelled from the UAE to Qatar on Wednesday after visiting Saudi Arabia the day before to try to resolve the crisis. Shortly after Tillerson's remarks, the Pentagon said that while the Qatar blockade was not affecting current operations against Islamic State, it was "hindering" the ability to plan for long-term operations. Tillerson has been tapped by Trump to help mediate the worst diplomatic crisis in the Gulf in years.

There has been no immediate word from the Pentagon or Washington on how, if at all, this crisis will affect over 11,000 active service members in the region and the sizable amount of air traffic coming in and out of Qatar, which also plays regional headquarters for U.S. Central Command.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has approved legislation on deploying Turkish troops in Qatar, signalling support for the Gulf state as it faces isolation imposed by fellow Arab states over its alleged support for terrorism. 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 U.S. air operations in the Middle East, including the fight against Islamic State.

The additional pressure on Qatar came after Doha rejected Saudi demands delivered by a Kuwaiti envoy Wednesday.

The comments - attributed to Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on incendiary issues such as Israel, Iran and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas - were one of the reasons cited by Saudi Arabia and its allies on Monday for imposing a diplomatic and economic blockade on Qatar. "And in the wake of that conference, nations came together and spoke to me about confronting Qatar over its behaviour", Trump told reporters at a news conference.

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