Tillerson calls on Arab nations to ease blockade on Qatar

The United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Yemen all announced they would withdraw their diplomatic staff from Qatar and cut air and sea traffic to the country.

The Qatari government said on Friday: "We do not, have not and will not support terrorist groups".

Mr Gabriel met Saudi Foreign Minister Adil al-Ahmad al-Jubayr two days ago, and said all parties were seeking "to avoid further escalation".

The United Arab Emirates said on Friday that Qatar must acknowledge concerns about its "troubling support for extremism" and "re-examine its regional policies".

While applauding a Kuwaiti effort to mediate the crisis, Gargash said Emirati and Saudi officials planned to concede nothing to Qatar, an global air travel hub now cut off from some of the skies around it and blocked from receiving the trucks full of food it relies on to feed its citizens.

Speaking from the State Department yesterday, Secretary Rex Tillerson said the blockade of Arab states against Qatar has had led to food shortages and the forced separation of families, and it also is "hindering US military action in the region, and the campaign against ISIS". "Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!".

He thanked Saudi Arabia and King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and all the countries that participated in the historic Islamic summit in Riyadh last month. Though the president said others, too, were guilty of supporting terrorism, he said he would not name them.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain are among seven states that have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, a gas-rich emirate at the Saudi border.

The Ministry of Economy and Commerce released a video on Tuesday that showed supermarket shelves packed with food and other goods after Qataris crowded into stores on Monday to stock up fearing shortages.

The secretary of State said the emir of Qatar has made progress in curbing financial support for extremist groups, "but he must do more and he must do it more quickly".

"Honestly, we don't know if there were real reasons for this crisis or whether it was based on things we're unaware of", Al-Thani was quoted as saying during an interview with Al Jazeera.

"If there is Qatar on one side and the rest of the Gulf states on the other, one must be very careful", said Dr. Ali Faik Demir, a member of the Galatasaray University International Relations Department. Arguably the most prominent person named is Yousef al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood network.

Six of the organizations are already considered militant groups in Bahrain, a Sunni-ruled, predominantly Shiite island home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet and an under-construction British naval base.

Momani said Jordan hopes that the Arab countries overcome this "regrettable stage" and resolve the crisis on solid ground, the news agency said. It will, therefore, be the beginning of the end to terrorism.

Both al-Jubeir and Gargash in their comments suggested their complaints about Qatar go back years, likely implying their criticism is focused on Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.

  • Leroy Wright