Qatar rejects as baseless terrorism blacklist by four Arab states

Just days earlier, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Egypt, Yemen and Mauritania cut diplomatic ties, suspended transport and closed their borders with Qatar after alleging the emirate supported regional terror groups.

Although Qatar has long denied supporting or funding terror groups, western diplomats have accused it of allowing the funding of some Sunni extremists, such as al-Qaida's branch in Syria.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged Saudi Arabia and other Gulf neighbors of Qatar to ease a blockade for humanitarian reasons, the BBC reports.

Qatar is a key USA ally and has hosted the United States' largest Airbase in the Gulf since 2003.

"We call on the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to ease the blockade against Qatar", Tillerson said in a brief statement to reporters at the State Department.

In a swift reaction the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ambassador in U.S. said, "UAE welcomes Trump's leadership in challenging Qatar's troubling support for extremism".

Tillerson said the US will support Kuwait-led efforts to mediate an end to the diplomatic row. It also hosts the biggest American military base in the Middle East. Tillerson has been tapped by Trump to help mediate the worst diplomatic crisis in the Gulf in years.

"The elements of a solution are available", Tillerson said at the State Department.

In a strong-worded opening remarks, Trump alleged that Qatar is funding terrorism at the "highest level" and asked other countries doing the same to stop with immediate effect.

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

Tillerson said Friday that the emir has made progress in halting financial support and expelling terrorists, "but he must do more and he must do it quickly".

Analysts say the crisis is partly an extension of a 2014 dispute, when Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain temporarily recalled their ambassadors over Qatari support for Egypt s Muslim Brotherhood.

Tillerson said the blockade had led to food shortages in tiny Qatar and forced families to uproot themselves and pull their children from school.

Anxious residents have responded to the crisis by emptying grocery stores in the Qatari capital, Doha, as Saudi Arabia has blocked trucks carrying food from entering the country across its only land border.

Following the president's about-face on the crisis, Saudi Arabia has turned down his offer of mediation.

Then on Friday, Mr Gabriel spoke to Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani in the northern German town of Wolfenbuettel.

In his desperation to take credit for Saudi's move, to showcase it as an example of his ability to shape global events, Trump appears to be throwing Qatar under the bus.

  • Leroy Wright