Kuwait's emir meets with Qatari leader amid diplomatic rift

Cheryl Sanders
June 8, 2017

The call is the first known conversation call between Trump and the Qatari emir since the spat broke out earlier this week.

Measures taken by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other nations against Qatar are aimed at pressuring Doha into changing its policies, not at overthrowing its regime, a senior UAE minister said yesterday as the diplomatic rift widened. "As far as we are concerned, it is business as usual". Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have revoked the licences of Qatar Airways and ordered its offices to close within 48 hours. Qatar has good relations with Iran, but hosts the USA air base.

State-linked media in the region ignored Qatar's denial and continued to report the comments.

They say Qatar backs militant groups including so-called Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda, which Qatar denies.

For Riyadh, trouble was also evident elsewhere.

Some Qatari-funded anti-Saudi websites had begun reporting on what they said were calls for protests against the kingdom's rulers, stirring memories of the Arab Spring revolutions that toppled the leaders of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. "The Saudis had had it with Qatar. The Qataris keep channels open with Iran in various capitals and they campaign against the Egyptian state".

He added: "I hope that this is a signal also to Qatar that the period of duplicity, of doing something publicly and doing something else privately, are over".

If Qatar is economically weakened or decides to retaliate against Trump's 140-character allegations, it has leverage.

Sources said the UAE and Saudi Arabia have already cut exports of white sugar to Qatar. They accuse the energy-rich Gulf nation of supporting terror groups, charges denied by Qatar.

"The catalogue is so wide. It was something that was ready to explode".

Qatar has maintained its diplomatic clout in part by being the home of US Central Command and the U.S's largest air base in the region and hosting branches of prestigious Western universities.

The emir of Kuwait - one of the Gulf countries not involved in the dispute - travelled to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in an attempt to mediate.

Those countries on Monday severed diplomatic ties with Qatar, leading to suspended flights and regional ports closed to Qatari ships as anxious residents started stockpiling food. It is likely that Egypt came on board two days later, during a visit to Cairo by the Saudi foreign minister. The government announced that QNA had been hacked, asking to ignore the news.

The UAE's state-owned Etihad Airways, meanwhile, said all travellers holding Qatari passports were now prohibited from travelling to or transiting through the emirates on government instructions. "This is well choreographed".

"Oman Air is upgrading its flights to Doha to bigger aircraft, with more capacity till June 14", a spokesperson of the airlines told Muscat Daily.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are getting "no US pushback" on human rights or on the Yemen intervention, he said, while "Egypt also feels off the hook with Trump, and is using the opportunity to fix ties with the Saudis, reinforce with the Emiratis and be more assertive in Libya".

It said there had been a big "non-resident" deposits in Qatar's banks, and an increase in their lending to the government to fund infrastructure projects.

Trump said he'd told the kings, presidents and prime ministers that funding "Radical Ideology" can't be tolerated, and "Leaders pointed to Qatar - look!"

Blockaded by its neighbors by land and sea, Qatar is eager for Trump's help.

According to the CNN report, Gulf nations have criticized Qatar for alleged support of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is considered a terrorist organization by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

It's significant to note that nations in the Middle East and beyond believe that Qatar or individuals who live there financially support terrorism.

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