Rift in the Gulf

Ivan Schwartz
June 8, 2017

Gabriel warned against completely isolating Qatar and said the move is an attack on the Gulf state's very existence. An Omani diplomat traveled to Qatar on Monday.

The "leaders discussed the critical goals of preventing the financing of terrorist organisations and eliminating the promotion of extremism by any nation in the region", the White House statement said. Nonetheless, they were quickly picked up by news organizations in neighboring countries, which in turn began covering the statements as facts while repudiating Qatar and its rulers.

The Pentagon also declined to answer a question about whether Qatar supported terrorism, the accusation made by Arab states who appeared to now have the political backing of the US President.

In addition to cutting off diplomatic ties, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have closed their airspace and sea-lanes to Qatari vessels. Another question was whether the mounting crisis would impede regional unity on fighting the Islamic State group and other extremist threats in the region, although USA military and diplomatic officials have thus far insisted they anticipate no change to cooperation on those efforts.

Foreigners residing in Qatar and in possession of a Qatari residence visa would also not be eligible for visa on arrival in the UAE, Etihad spokesman said in an email.

Much to the ire of its neighbors, Qatar's state-funded news network Al Jazeera also seemed to take up the cause of these groups, often championing democracy and dissent in a region ruled by secular autocrats or unaccountable royals.

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The split among the Sunni Muslim states erupted last month after the summit of Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia, where Trump denounced Shi'ite Muslim Iran's "destabilising interventions" in Arab lands, where Tehran is locked in a tussle with Riyadh for influence.

While some observers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia during the current crisis have called for the base to be relocated, the United States military said in a statement on Monday there are "no plans" to change its posture in Qatar.

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

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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the move was rooted in long-standing differences and urged the parties to resolve them.

It was unclear how Trump's broadside against Qatar and any resulting diplomatic fallout might affect the USA military presence in Qatar, where there are roughly 10,000 American troops and a major U.S. base.

In terms of foreign policy, the U.S.is now stuck between a rock and about four different hard places.

At the State Department, spokesperson Heather Nauert said the U.S.is grateful to Qatar for its "longstanding" support of US presence there and Washington has "no plans to change our posture in Qatar".

"We were surprised", Ambassador Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani said Tuesday, according to The Daily Beast.

"'Counter Threat Finance' operations coming to the forefront of the global war on terror is long overdue", Modell said.

Qatar houses the largest US airbase in the region and has contributed to efforts to roll back Iranian ambitions in Syria.

The US President also said that it was "so good to see" that his trip to Riyadh is "already paying off".

John Sfakianakis, director of economic research at the Gulf Research Center in Saudi Arabia, says the overall uncertainty will have an impact that extends beyond Qatar.

Qatar's Cabinet said the decision to cut ties was based on "fabricated allegations and lies".

Other reports by GizPress

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