Gulf diplomatic crisis, Trump vs. Comey [International Edition]

Angie Massey
June 10, 2017

"We believe these are unintended consequences, especially during the holy month of Ramadan", he added.

He said the diplomatic rift has not interrupted or curtailed operations at al Udeid air base, a launching pad for U.S. military efforts in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. More than 11,000 USA and coalition forces are at the base, from which more than 100 aircraft operate.

Taking what appeared to be a different position to Trump's hard line, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made clear on Friday he expected all parties to end the crisis.

"The blockade is hindering United States military actions in the region and the campaign against ISIS", Tillerson warned. "All of our supplies are getting in just fine".

The Pentagon said it agreed with Mr Tillerson's analysis of the impact of the blockade.

"While current operations from Al Udeid Air Base have not been interrupted or curtailed, the evolving situation is hindering our ability to plan for longer-term military operations", Captain Jeff Davis, a spokesman for the Defense Department said Friday.

The sanctions list further tightens the screws on Qatar, home to a key United States military base and the host of the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

Trump's blunt remarks about a key US military partner came just days after multiple countries cut diplomatic ties with, closed borders with and suspended air and sea travel to the gas-rich nation over what they said was its support of terrorist groups.

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The Saudis have also closed their land border with Qatar and others have blocked access to air space around the wealthy Gulf country. The Gulf countries have accused Qatar of sponsoring terrorist activities in Syria and Yemen.

Included on the sanctions list - which was denounced as "baseless and without foundation in fact" by Qatar - are the Qatari-funded Qatar Charity and Eid Charity and several prominent figures including businessmen, politicians and senior members of the ruling family, one a former interior minister.

President Donald Trump contradicted his own secretary of state on Friday, hours after Rex Tillerson called on Gulf states to ease their blockade on Qatar.

The secretary of state said the USA will work alongside the Emir of Kuwait to bring a peaceful agreement to the blockade, and "progress toward eliminating all forms of support for terrorism, military, financial, moral, or ideological".

The list, however, contains at least two names already designated internationally as terrorist financiers, and against whom Qatar took action, according to a previous US Department of State report.

But, alongside this admonition for Qatar, Tillerson also noted that other countries must do more - and urged Riyadh and its allies to soften their embargo.

Earlier in the week, Trump took to Twitter to take credit for the Saudi-led move to punish Qatar, saying it could be the start of the end of terrorism in the Middle East.

"In the last few days, I've spoken to many leaders in the region, and as I said to all of them, we know you are stronger together", he said.

Other reports by GizPress

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