Trumps intervention comes after secretary of state Rex Tillerson had exhorted Saudi Arabia and Gulf allies to ease their siege of Qatar
Donald Trump has accused Qatar of sponsoring terrorism at the highest levels, in an extraordinary escalation of the diplomatic row with one Americas more important military partners in the Middle East.
Speaking in the White House rose garden on Friday, Trump said he had decided the time had come to call on Qatar to objective its funding and its revolutionary ideology.
His remarks marked his most forthright intervention in a crisis triggered on Monday when Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies launched a co-ordinated diplomatic and economic campaign to isolate Qatar.
Earlier this week, the US president appeared to take credit for the siege in a string of tweets.
On Friday, Trump said that Arab leaders he met in Saudi Arabia last month had recommended him to challenge Qatar, which they accuse of backing radical groups and cosying up to Iran.
So we had a decision to build: do we take the easy road, or do we finally take a hard but necessary action? We have to stop the funding of terrorism, he said. The nation of Qatar, regrettably, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level.
Trumps intervention came afterSaudi Arabia and its allies on Friday sanctioned a dozen international organizations and 59 people it accused of links to Islamist militancy a number of them Qataris or with links to Qatar.
The Qatari government said in a statement on Friday: We do not, have not and will not support terrorist groups.
US relations with Qatar have long been complicated by Dohas promotion of a conservative kind of Sunni Islam, but the tiny Gulf state is also a close military partner. More than 11,000 US and coalition forces are at al-Udeid air base outside Doha, which is the centre for US air operations over Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan.
Qatar has hitherto called on Trump to intervene decisively, saying he was crucial to resolving the crisis.
On Thursday, Meshal bin Hamad al-Thani, Qatars ambassador to the US, said: We believe in its capability to calm this crisis down. We are courageous enough to acknowledge if things need to be amended.
But Trumps tone struck a marked contrast with commentaries by the US secretary of state, who simply an hour earlier recommended Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain to ease their siege of Qatar.
In a brief statement to reporters, Rex Tillerson said that the siege was hampering US military endeavors against Islamic State and causing unintended humanitarian consequences.
Tillerson said the US would support efforts to mediate the row, but also said Qatar must do more to crack down on support for terror.
The emir of Qatar has made progress in halting financial support and expelling terrorists from “the two countries “, but he must do more and he must do it more quickly.
The UAEs ambassador to Washington welcomed Trumps commentaries. The UAE welcomes President Trumps leadership in challenging Qatars troubling support for extremism. The next step is for Qatar to acknowledge these concerns and commit to re-examine the respective regional policies, said Yousef Al Otaiba, according to Reuters.
Ben Rhodes, who served as Barack Obamas deputy national security consultant, said Trumps statements on the crisis were especially confounding because there appeared to be no official US strategy.
Theres no explain for why hes doing what hes doing, Rhodes said, warns that Trumps loose words threatened counter-terrorism operations against Isis, US troops stationed in the region, and risked the escalation of conflict with Iran.
Theres a short-term danger of increased danger to our national security objectives, and then theres a longer term hazard of escalating conflicts on many fronts, Rhodes said. In the Middle East, its always a mistake to think that things cant get worse.
Qatars foreign minister described the blockade as a violation of international law and said there was an attempt to mobilise international opinion against the Gulf emirate. These procedures that were taken have clear violations of international law and the rules of international humanitarian law. They will not have a positive impact on individual regions but a negative one, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told reporters on Friday during a visit to Germany.
Included on the Saudi sanctions list which was denounced as baseless and without foundation in fact by Qatar are the Qatari-funded Qatar Charity and Eid Charity, and several prominent figures including businessmen, politicians and senior members of the ruling household, one a former interior minister.
The list also includes the Muslim Brotherhoods spiritual leader, Youssef al-Qaradawi, who is based in Doha, and individuals in Libya as well as Shia groups in Bahrain find by some Gulf Arab governments as are connected to Iran.
The sanctions list further stiffens the fuckings on Qatar, home to a key US military base and the host of the 2022 Fifa World Cup.
It also strongly suggests a widening of the aggressive Saudi-led campaign beyond Qatar itself not least against the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt where Youssef al-Qaradawi was tried and sentenced to death in absentia following the 2013 military subvert of the elected president Mohamed Morsi, a Brotherhood member.
Although Qatar has long denied supporting or funding terror groups, western envoys have accused it of letting the funding of some Sunni extremists, such as al-Qaidas branch in Syria. The same accusations have been levelled against people in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
A resulting envoy from the UAE told the Guardian on Thursday that the Gulf nations had lost all trust in Qatar.
Omar Saif Ghobas, the UAEs ambassador to Russia, said: There is no trust, it has run. So when the Qatari foreign minister says, Listen, we need to engage in dialogue, we have done that for many years thats merely a statement for western consumption.
The crisis has provoked nervousness in Qatar, a resulting gas exporter as well as an international traveling hub, whose flagship carrier Qatar Airways has been forced to fly circuitous and expensive roads over Iran and Turkey after being blocked elsewhere in the Middle East.
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