Saudi and Bahrain welcome Trump's scolding of Qatar

Lance Nichols
June 15, 2017

President Donald Trump, accompanied by Romanian President Klaus Werner Iohannis, speaks during a news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House, Friday, June 9, 2017, in Washington.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ratified two deals allowing Turkish troops' deployment to Qatar and training the Gulf nation's gendarmerie, according to the presidency.

"The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level", he said. We have to stop the funding of terrorism.

Despite Tillerson's call for there to be "no further escalation", Trump's sharp comments were likely to further embolden Saudi Arabia and the others in their bid to isolate Qatar.

Four Arab countries have blacklisted 59 individuals and 12 entities, which they alleged to be Qatar's links to terrorist groups, further escalating the tension in the Gulf.

Saudi Arabia said its action followed the conclusions of last month's Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, where Trump delivered a speech about Islamic extremism. Though the president said others, too, were guilty of supporting terrorism, he said he would not name them.

In a day of mixed messages and chaotic diplomacy, Mr Tillerson emphasised the economic, humanitarian and military damage he said the blockade was inflicting.

"We believe these are unintended consequences, especially during this Holy Month of Ramadan, but they can be addressed immediately", he said.

It comes as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tries to calm the worst diplomatic crisis in the Persian Gulf in years. Previously, the US had insisted the Qatar crisis wouldn't affect USA military efforts in the Middle East.

Still, the Pentagon has been developing contingency plans in case there's any interruption, defense officials said. They have imposed what Qatar said was a blockade of shipping and air traffic and closed Qatar's only land border, causing panic buying at supermarkets and provoking confusion and anxiety across the population.

"We truly believe that the involvement of the president and the USA will bring this crisis to an end".

Trump's comments came as Washington joins intensifying worldwide efforts to heal the worsening rift between the key Western Gulf allies, which has escalated into the region's worst diplomatic crisis in years.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and other Arab nations cut off relations with Qatar after accusing it of supporting terrorism. Turkey and Qatar have both provided support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and backed rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad.

And in a separate statement issued on Friday, the United Arab Emirates praised Trump's "leadership in challenging Qatar's troubling support for extremism".

"The next step is for Qatar to acknowledge these concerns and commit to reexamine its regional policies", its ambassador to the United States Yousef al-Otaiba told the official WAM news agency.

Tillerson says the blockade is hindering USA military efforts and the campaign against the Islamic State group. He says the elements of a resolution are available.

Other reports by TheDigitalNewspaper

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