Published: Sun, June 11, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Qatar tells Gulf residents they are free to stay


Trump accused Qatar of being a high level funder of terrorism.

"We had a decision to make: do we take the easy road or do we finally take a hard but necessary action? We have to stop the funding of terrorism".

To that end, just an hour before Trump's comments at a news conference, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on Saudi Arabia and three other Arab nations to ease their recent crackdown on Qatar.

The closure of Qatar's only land border, with Saudi Arabia, has raised fears of the country running out of supplies for its 2.7 million people, with long queues forming at supermarkets which are struggling for food stock.

Gulf allies tightened their squeeze on Qatar on Friday by putting dozens of figures with links to the tiny, wealthy nation on terrorism blacklists.

June 8: Apparently having been told that Qatar is an ally which hosts both CENTCOM and a huge USA military base, Trump offers up Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to mediate the dispute.

"Despite these efforts, entities and individuals within Qatar continue to serve as a source of financial support for terrorist and violent extremist groups, particularly regional Al-Qaeda affiliates such as the Nusrah Front", the State Department said.

The legislation, which also foresees cooperation in military training, was rapidly passed in parliament on Wednesday, a day after Erdogan openly sided with Qatar and criticized other Gulf countries' moves to isolate it.

The base is the nerve-center for US air operations for Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other Middle East nations.

Trump, speaking in the White House Rose Garden yesterday, said his concerns about Qatar's support to terror groups was raised during his meeting weeks ago with Arab and Muslim leaders. Only Kuwait hosts a stronger USA military presence in the Middle East.

But the tone and tenor Mr. Tillerson's statement only 90 minutes earlier, was more about the crisis created by the blockade.

Earlier on Friday, Tillerson asked Saudi Arabia and its allies to halt the blockade because of "humanitarian consequences" and also because it was "hindering United States military actions in the region and the campaign against Isis".

Tillerson said the USA was asking Qatar to "be responsive to the concerns of its neighbors".

Among the 18 Qataris named are alleged terrorism financiers as well as prominent businessmen, politicians and senior members of the ruling family including a former interior minister.

Trump's brash approach to the Gulf diplomatic crisis had some analysts speculating over whether the president was aware of key U.S. interests in Qatar, as his words seemed to heavily reflect Washington's ties with Riyadh.

Now, the situation in the Arabian Gulf over the last few days is troubling to the United States, the region, and to many people who are directly affected.

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