Trump cheers Arab isolation of Qatar

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.

The kingdom and three regional allies - the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain - accused their fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member of supporting a range of violent groups, from proxies of Shiite Muslim Iran to the Sunni militants of al-Qaeda and Islamic State.

Trump said he was told during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia that Qatar was funding "radical ideology".

He tweets: "Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!"

Qatar has been cut off from neighbors including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain after Saudi Arabia claimed the country has embraced Islamist groups aiming to destabilize the region, such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

He appeared to take a more measured tone during a call with Saudi Arabia's King Salman.

Kuwait - one of the Gulf countries not involved in the dispute - has offered to mediate talks, and Qatar said it was receptive to dialogue.

USA officials nevertheless claimed that the rift between Qatar and other Arab nations will not affect anti-terrorism efforts.

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday revoked the licences of Qatar Airways and ordered its offices to be closed within 48 hours, a day after banning all Qatari planes from landing at its airports.

In it reaction, Qatar called the decision by Gulf nations and Egypt "unjustified", saying allegations against Doha have "no basis in fact". The rift threatens the unity of the GCC at time when the USA and Saudi Arabia want to contain Iranian influence in the region.

Our correspondent also said that Trump's latest statement shows that he is not in line with people in his own administration.

Corker, who has previously said he wished Trump's iPhone would be taken away from him, emphasized the importance of the major USA air base in Qatar "to the activities we have going on in the region". U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the move was rooted in longstanding differences and urged the parties to resolve them. He didn't take sides.

Trump's tweets are the first public statement he has made on Monday's news that multiple states in the Middle East have suspended economic and diplomatic relations with Qatar. The Al Udeid Air Base, southwest of Doha, is home to about 11,000 USA military personnel and serves as a base for US military flights to over 20 countries, including Iraq and Syria. And it is trying to galvanize the Arab world to assume greater responsibility in fighting ISIS, something governments won't be able to do if they're consumed with internal spats. "In terms of reputation and embarrassment, this is a big issue for Qatar", he said. Lindsey Graham, summing up America's strategic conundrum. Asked about the situation during a press conference, IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said states had a right to their borders, but "we would like connectivity to be re-established and the sooner the better".

The Pentagon cited no immediate effects from the instability on its operations.

  • Carolyn Briggs