Qatar situation: Kuwaiti emir visits Saudi, no word on outcome of talks

Pauline Gross
June 7, 2017

Saudi Arabia, the powerhouse among those cutting ties to Qatar, said it did so due to the country's "embrace of various terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at destabilizing the region", including the Muslim Brotherhood, al Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and militants supported by Iran in the kingdom's restive Eastern Province.

President Donald Trump threw his weight behind the Saudi-led diplomatic isolation of Qatar, calling it just punishment for the country's financial support for Islamic extremists and taking sides in a dispute among key United States allies in the Persian Gulf. Officials in Qatar denied the story, but it was still shared by other news outlets, according to The Associated Press.

But the planted story, in which the Emir of Qatar said relations with Iran were good and that Trump would not last long in office, was picked up by other outlets in the Middle East and created some anger, especially in Saudi Arabia.

"Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve", he said during his speech. Trump wrote on Twitter.

The move came as Saudi Arabia, along with other Gulf states and Egypt, severed ties with Qatar.

"His message was that we need unity in the region to fight extremist ideology and terrorist financing", a United States official told Reuters news agency.

A Pentagon spokesman said the crisis has had "no impact on our operations in Qatar or with regards to airspace permission around it". Arab rulers accuse Qatar of using its multi-million-dollar franchise as a mouthpiece to attack them.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon said it is grateful to Qatar for support of U.S. military presence and "enduring commitment to regional security".

Qatar has for years parlayed its enormous gas wealth and media strength into broad influence in the region.

"We've chose to take steps to make clear that enough is enough", Adel Al-Jubeir told journalists in Paris.

Earlier Tuesday, Jordan said it will downgrade its diplomatic representation with Qatar after examining the "cause of the crisis". Many residents raced to grocery stores to stock up over fears that the country, which imports around 40 percent of its food from Saudi Arabia, could be headed for trouble.

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Maersk, the world's biggest container shipping line, said it was unable to transport goods in or out of Qatar because it could not take them through the UAE port of Jebel Ali.

Amman will also be revoking the license of Doha-based TV channel Al Jazeera.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday morning, Mr Trump accused Qatar of funding terrorism, saying: "During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology".

"The US still wants to see this issue de-escalated and resolved immediately, in keeping with the principles that the president laid out in terms of defeating terror financing and extremism".

Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber al-Sabah flew to Saudi Arabia for talks with King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Saudi and Kuwaiti state media reported, but gave no details on the discussions.

"Whatever has been thrown as an accusation is all based on misinformation and we think that the entire crisis being based on misinformation", the foreign minister told CNN's Becky Anderson.

A Qatari official said the rift was pushing Doha in the direction of leaving the six-state Gulf Cooperation Council, "with deep regret".

Traders on global markets anxious that Riyadh's allies would refuse to accept LNG shipments from the Gulf state, and that Egypt might even bar tankers carrying Qatari cargoes from using the Suez Canal as they head to Europe and beyond.

UAE carriers Emirates, Etihad, flydubai and Air Arabia, as well as Saudi Airlines had all announced the suspension of flights to and from Qatar as of Tuesday morning.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani "received a call from the emir of Kuwait asking him to postpone it in order to give time to solve the crisis", Sheikh Mohammed said.

Other reports by GizPress

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