Trump, Saudi King Discuss Goal of Stopping Financing of Terrorist Groups

Cheryl Sanders
June 8, 2017

From the perspective of USA strategic interests, the desired outcome is eventual reconciliation among these regional partners, and the Saudi-led collective has sufficient leverage to achieve that without the US further isolating Qatar and embroiling itself in a thorny regional dispute.

Sheikh Sabah called on Qatar's ruler to focus on easing tension and advised against making decisions that could escalate the situation, Kuwait state news agency Kuna said.

UAE subjects may be punished by a jail term of up to 15 years for expressing sympathies for Qatar, the Emirati Attorney General warned after key Arab states cut ties with Doha.

Mauritania has become the latest country to cut diplomatic relations with Qatar as part of a growing rift between the energy-rich Gulf nation and other Arab countries.

But Qatar's dealings are arguably murkier than the others because it likes to see itself as a neutral player that can act as an intermediary, and is thus willing to play both sides - Saudi Arabia and Iran. Several residents, reached on the internet chat, said that people were stocking up on food and cash.

His comments come amid one of the biggest political crises to hit the Middle East in years.

In the interview, Al Thani confirmed the Federal Bureau of Investigation is helping Qatar investigate a hack of its state-run news agency last month that may have been a catalyst for the crisis.

Its actions are a study in contradictions.

Experts, however, say the move by Qatar's neighbours shows the world is more concerned about security as a main factor in relations. It is helping to fight the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, but it also supports Tehran-backed allies of the Assad government in Syria, including the Hezbollah movement.

Qatar long has denied supporting terror groups.

They accused the tiny Gulf state of harboring extremist groups and suggested Qatari support for the agenda of Saudi Arabia's regional arch-rival Iran.

In the same week as Mr Trump's Riyadh speech, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE blocked Qatari news sites, including Al Jazeera. "They are all right now", he said, adding that the Qatar government had given assurances that life would go on as normal. But analyst Saeed Wahabi said Qatar has been unwilling to enforce restrictions on terror financing and partner with the US on counter terrorism the way Saudi Arabia has.

"There will be no shortage of food and other products as more than 95 percent of imports from Qatar arrive by air and sea", Qatari Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani said.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir said on Tuesday that the repercussions of cutting ties on the Qatari economy should convince it to reconsider its policies.

Qatar is predominantly Sunni, but has a small Shiite minority.

Lawmakers from Erdogan's ruling AK Party and the nationalist opposition MHP on Wednesday proposed bringing forward approval of a draft bill that will allow Turkish troops to be deployed to Turkey's military base in Qatar, party officials told Reuters.

President Donald Trump is offering to mediate the Qatar diplomatic crisis by hosting the feuding countries for a White House meeting. Many don't expect a resolution until at least the beginning of July. Qatar Airways has asked all passengers to report to the airport three hours before the flight.

- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2017...extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar.

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