Published: Sun, June 11, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Trump slams Qatar for funding terror as Tillerson urges calm

In a wide-ranging interview with the Associated Press, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani repeatedly denied that his country funded extremists and he rejected the idea of shutting down its Al-Jazeera satellite news network.

"These procedures that were taken have clear violations of worldwide law and global humanitarian law".

Bahrain on Thursday declared it a crime, punishable by imprisonment of up to five years and a fine, to show "sympathy or favoritism" to Qatar or to object in any way to Bahrain's decision to break relations and impose economic and border restrictions on the neighboring Persian Gulf country.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain announced on Monday they were cutting diplomatic ties and closing all connectivity links with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism.

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

Tillerson also said the blockade by Qatar's neighbors was "hindering USA military action in the region, and the campaign against ISIS", using an acronym for the Islamic State group.

Qatar has backed Islamist movements but vehemently denies supporting terrorism.

Li added that China's influence in Iran was growing because of its friendlier approach towards the country and increasing presence in the region. Turkish exporters have also pledged to provide food and water to Qatar if needed. Saudi Arabia, however, is locked in a regional power struggle with Iran.

Regional tensions have been aggravated by the worst dispute for years among Gulf Arabs and were ratcheted up further on Wednesday after militants attacked targets in Tehran, killing at least 12 people.

His views were echoed by Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, fellow for the Middle East at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, who said that the branch campuses would inevitably be affected if Qatar remained under prolonged economic sanctions.

Christopher Davidson, reader in Middle East politics at Durham University, said the ongoing crisis would make Qatar and the rest of the Gulf less attractive locations for universities looking to set up overseas.

Reiterating comments by Gulf officials, Gargash told Reuters there was no plan to seek a change in Qatar's leadership, only a change in its policies.

A top United Arab Emirates official on Wednesday told AFP that the unprecedented measures against Qatar aim to pressure Doha into making drastic policy changes. Turkish officials have given conflicting statements since the base was constructed in 2014, but up to 3,000 troops could soon be stationed there, giving Qatar another deterrent lever.

Sheikh Mohammed insisted, however, that the country is not anxious about a food shortage and said Iran was ready to help with securing food supplies.

I'm in Amman, Jordan, right now, and on Wednesday Jordan also joined the Saudi side-sort of-by downgrading its diplomatic relations with Qatar.

The biggest concentration of United States military personnel in the Middle East is at Qatar's Al Udeid Air Base.

Qatar has agreed to talks with Kuwait's Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

The emirate is also home to leaders of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestinian Hamas and the Afghan Taliban.

"This violation of the Security Council resolutions, if proved correct, shall definitely have a negative bearing on counter-terrorism efforts on the ground", senior Egyptian UN diplomat Ihab Moustafa Awad Moustafa told the council.

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