Arab Countries Designate People, Groups With Ties to Qatar as Terrorists

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties and transportation links with Qatar on Monday.

President Trump recently returned from a visit to Saudi Arabia where he hoped to strengthen the U.S. Gulf-Cooperation Council (GCC), of which Qatar and blockade participants are members.

During his trip to Saudi Arabia last month, Trump said, several Arab nations spoke to him about confronting Qatar over its behavior.

"The nation of Qatar unfortunately has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level", Trump told reporters at the White House.

Tillerson's earlier statement that the "blockade" of Qatar is hurting USA economic and military efforts in the region contradicts Pentagon officials' insistence earlier in the week that there has been no impact on US operations in Qatar, or the fight against ISIS.

Sheikh Mohammed called attempts to isolate Doha "collective punishment" and a "systematic campaign" against Qatar, which he said continued to work alongside the United States against extremism.

Tillerson said Qatar has a history of supporting groups across a wide political spectrum, including those that engage in violence, and that the emir of Qatar had made progress in halting financial support for terrorism but that he must do more.

"The president emphasized the importance of all countries in the region working together to prevent the financing of terrorist organizations and stop the promotion of extremist ideology", the White House said in a statement.

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told the broadcaster that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has confirmed the hack and the planting of fake news.

Trump's new tone echoed that of his secretaries of Defense and State, who emphasized Tuesday the need for Gulf unity and the importance of the U.S. partnership with Qatar, home to the Al Udeid Air Base, the main regional center for air missions against ISIS.

Qatar is on a peninsula, sharing one land border with Saudi Arabia - which is now closed - and otherwise surrounded by the Gulf.

Yes, we'll support these mediation efforts, along with the emir of Kuwait, Tillerson said. "Qatar remains critical for coalition air operations in the fight against ISIS and around the region", Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement.

"There are humanitarian consequences to this blockade", Mr Tillerson said in Washington.

A top United Arab Emirates official on Wednesday said that the unprecedented measures aim to pressure Doha into making drastic policy changes. Qatar is home to the biggest American airbase in the region, with about 10,000 troops.

  • Leroy Wright