Tillerson Urges Nations To End Blockade Against Qatar
- Author: Leroy Wright Jun 13, 2017,
Jun 13, 2017, 2:11
They are united in their fear Qatar's alleged ambivalence towards Tehran and were galvanised by US President Donald Trump's recent tour of the region. "I decided ... the time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding".
He says that funding has to end.
Trump, whose accusation was accompanied by a call for Qatar to re-join "the unity of responsible nations", contrasted with more balanced remarks by Tillerson, who urged calm as Doha remains blockaded by neighbouring states.
He said blockade had caused "unintended" consequences, and was "hindering United States military actions in the region and the campaign against ISIS", referring to ISIL.
This assessment has been only partially corroborated by the Pentagon.
"The blockade is also impairing U.S. and other global business activities in the region and has created a hardship on the people of Qatar and the peoples whose livelihoods depend on commerce with [Doha]", he said.
"I won't name other countries but we are not done solving the problem, but we will solve that problem", he said.
The extraordinary denunciation of the key USA ally seemed to align the White House with the diplomatic blockage on Qatar that kicked off earlier this week by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Libya, Yemen and the Maldives.
Despite Tillerson's assessment that the fight against ISIS had been impacted, Pentagon officials said there has been no immediate disruption. They warned, however, that their ability to make longer-term plans was being affected.
He demanded that Qatar, as well as the other nations, take steps to curtail support for terrorism.
The crisis started Monday when those four countries cut diplomatic ties and closed all land, sea and air borders with Qatar.
He said the emir of Qatar has made progress in halting financial support and expelling terrorist elements from his country, but he must do more, and he must do it more quickly.
Qatar is the regional headquarters for U.S. Central Command and home to some 10,000 American troops, NPR's Scott Horsley has reported.
A senior administration official downplayed any divergence between Trump and Tillerson's remarks in the aftermath, characterizing any perceived difference in their stance on Qatar as a "misperception". "We believe these are unintended consequences, especially during this Holy Month of Ramadan, but they can be addressed immediately". "The blockade is hindering United States military actions in the region and the campaign against ISIS".
Tillerson told reporters at the State Department that the crisis, which has cut transportation links and trade, had begun to hurt ordinary people in Qatar, impaired business dealings and harmed the U.S. battle against the Islamic State militant group.
Qatar is the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas.
Mauritania followed suit the following day, while Jordan downgraded its diplomatic relations with Doha.
The president spoke to the Emir of Qatar Wednesday and proposed a meeting with Gulf leaders to resolve the tension in the region.