Siding against ally Qatar, Trump injects US into Arab crisis

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, cut ties with Qatar in a coordinated move on Monday over alleged support for militants and its relations with Iran.

"They have to change their policies" and "stop supporting extremist groups", Adel Al-Jubeir told reporters, adding that Qatar needed "to act like a normal country".

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, which is to hold the soccer World Cup in 2022.

The Gulf states "said they would take a hard line on funding. extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar".

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.

Terming the sidelining of Qatar by Gulf nations as "the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism", U.S. President Donald Trump gloated about his recent visit to the Middle east, which according to him paved the way for this move.

"There had been talk (of sponsoring terrorism) in private about Qatar but now that it has come to the public, we need to make it public that this is how we intend to take our relations with them going forward", said Maj (Rtd) Simiyu Werunga, a security analyst.

Some 8,000 USA military personnel are stationed at al Udeid in Qatar, the largest US air base in the Middle East and a staging ground for USA -led strikes on the Islamic State militant group that has seized parts of Syria and Iraq. "It's as if life has been flipped on its head", said al-Fassi, the Saudi professor who teaches Gulf Affairs and Women's Studies at Qatar University. While he has even held out hopes that a communal effort could pave the way for Israeli-Arab rapprochement, the Qatar crisis serves as a reminder of the region's many fault lines that challenge USA diplomacy. Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello said the ban took effect on Tuesday, but there is no plan yet to repatriate the more than 200,000 Filipino workers in Qatar. If the Trump administration was this concerned about the Qatari funding for terror groups, shouldn't we have relocated CENTCOM's operations first?

Qatar hosts an estimated 10,000 Kenyan professionals.

"It's a mixed bag with Qatar", said Republican Sen.

Flights were delayed at Qatar's Hamad International Airport, which serves as a major transit hub for 37 million passengers a year, largely between Europe and Asia. First, the decision to alienate Qatar within the region, which now has the USA president's public imprimatur, does not appear to have been broadly planned for or supported by the rest of the US government.

And a coup attempt or any cross-border action by the Saudis or Emiratis would put Trump in an uncomfortable position, given his now vocal support for the anti-Qatar action.

USA officials said on Monday the United States would quietly try to calm the waters between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, saying that Qatar was too important to US military and diplomatic interests to be isolated.

Saudi Arabia said it revoked Qatar Airways' operating licenses and closed the airline's offices in the kingdom.

  • Leroy Wright