United States calls for resolving rift between Qatar, Gulf nations

United States calls for resolving rift between Qatar, Gulf nations

SAUDIA ARABIA and other autocratic Sunni states have been at odds for years with the energy-rich emirate of Qatar, which hosts the largest USA air base in the Middle East.

The Qatari crisis isn't the first time Trump's winks and nods precipitated trouble.

Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have banned Qatari nationals from entering the countries.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and Bahrain all cut political and economic ties with Qatar, charging that it supported terrorists, as well as Iran.

After "examining the cause" of the crisis, the Jordanian government also chose to revoke licenses for the Doha-based broadcaster Al Jazeera.

Sabah left Tuesday night for Saudi Arabia, where he met with King Salman. Trump's administration was going to be a mediator between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

For the tiny, oil rich nation of Qatar, Al Udeid Air Base, home to more than 10,000 US service members, has always been something of an insurance policy.

Saudi Arabia's central bank advised banks in the kingdom not to trade with Qatari banks in Qatari riyals, banking sources said. On Tuesday, he endorsed Saudi-led actions against Qatar in a tweet that amounted to self-praise for his speech in Saudi Arabia on May 21, which embraced a pro-Saudi view of the Middle East. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the move was rooted in longstanding differences and urged the parties to resolve them.

Exxon Mobil Corp said on Tuesday that production and exports of liquefied natural gas from Qatar have not been affected by rising diplomatic tensions in the Middle East.

French President Emmanuel Macron called for Gulf unity, saying he was ready to back "all initiatives to encourage calm".

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 U.S. military and diplomatic officials have thus far insisted they anticipate no change to cooperation on those efforts. "Donald Trump now accepts the view of Saudi Arabia as a strategic bastion in the Arab and Islamic world", Fawaz Gerges, a professor of Middle East studies at the London School of Economics, told The Washington Post.

A State Department official says the US believes it is most effective for countries in the region to resolve the conflict among themselves.

The president's sharp critique of Qatar pulled the USA directly into a conflict that American diplomats had wanted the bickering parties to resolve among themselves.

The Pentagon cited no immediate effects from the instability on its operations. An Omani diplomat traveled to Qatar on Monday.

Instead, Qatar will host soccer's 2022 Federation Internationale de Football Association world cup, with the games moved from June or July, when they are usually held, to November or December.

But Qatar has also always been accused by its Gulf neighbors and Egypt of supporting extremist groups.

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.

The move came just two weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump visited Saudi Arabia and vowed to improve ties with both Riyadh and Cairo to combat terrorism and contain Iran.

Make no mistake, Qatar has always upheld its sovereign right to charter a foreign policy course and ultimately shape its destiny independently. On the one hand, it could simply bow to Saudi and Emirati pressure once again; on the other, it could continue to chart its own course independent of the other GCC countries, moving closer to Iran and keeping up its support for Islamists.

Qatar has also been criticised for supporting Islamist rebels in Syria, and in 2013, the Afghan Taliban opened a Doha office. Those nations are also evicting all Qatari citizens.



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