Trump urges Qatar to resolve diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia

Qatar Sanctions Saudi's Riding for a Free Fall

Qatar Sanctions Saudi's Riding for a Free Fall

US President Donald Trump has offered to help resolve a worsening diplomatic crisis between Qatar and several Arab countries in the Middle East, a day after praising a move by Saudi Arabia and its allies to cut diplomatic relations with Doha.

"Qatar has to redress its path and has to go back to all previous commitments, it has to stop media campaigns and has to distance itself from our number one enemy, Iran", he said.

Trump's comments came after his top diplomat Rex Tillerson appealed to Saudi Arabia and its regional allies to ease their blockade of Qatar, saying it is hindering U.S. military actions in the region and the fight against the Islamic State. Those involved in the restrictions include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, Mauritius and the Maldives.

Qatar can survive indefinitely despite the suspension of diplomatic and economic ties by Saudi Arabia and allied Arab nations, the Qatari foreign minister told AFP on Thursday.

Al-Udeid is home to the forward headquarters of the US Special Operations Central Command (SOCCENT) and the US Air Force's Central Command (AFCENT), with advanced command and control infrastructure built up over the past 14 years, with Qatari funding. But Trump said that he, Tillerson and military leaders had decided during Trump's trip to Saudi Arabia last month that a public rebuke was needed.

After severing ties with Qatar on Monday, Saudi Arabia said it was committed to "decisive and swift action to cut off all funding sources for terrorism" in a statement carried by state news agency SPA, attributed to "an official source".

The Qatari official said his country has not yet received the list of demands of neighboring states that made a decision to cut ties with it on Monday, adding however that the government was keen on resolving the crisis peacefully. "We're seeing shortages of food [in Qatar], families are being forcibly separated, and children pulled out of school", he said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticized the Saudi-led moves to isolate Qatar, saying dialog is a better way to resolve the issue, while Turkish officials have stressed the country is eager to remain neutral in the dispute, the most serious diplomatic crisis between Gulf nations in decades.

Tillerson told reporters at the State Department that the crisis, which has cut transportation links and trade, had begun hurting ordinary people in Qatar, and that it was impairing business dealings and harming the USA battle against the Islamic State militant group. But at the Pentagon, a spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said only long-term military planning was affected.

Not only has Qatar been pivotal to USA military operations in the region, there is also no upside to taking sides in the current crisis.

Turkey, in an apparent act of support for Qatar, has approved a bill allowing more troops to be based there.

It wasn't immediately clear how Trump's sharp condemnation might affect US cooperation with Qatar, which hosts some 10,000 USA troops and a major USA air base that serves as a staging ground for operations in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The Qatari Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

Qatar long has denied supporting or funding terror groups.

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