Donald Trump, Rex Tillerson strike very different tones on Qatar

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 USA military action in the region, and the campaign against ISIS".

"Qatar has a history of supporting groups that span the spectrum of political expression from activism from violence".

Tillerson, speaking at the State Department, said the USA would help support efforts to mediate the crisis, along with Kuwait - another Gulf country that has stepped up to try to broker a resolution.

Trump said Saudi Arabia and other nations had talked to him about confronting Qatar in the wake of his recent visit to Riyadh. He said families were being separated, children removed from school and Qataris forced to deal with food shortages. The blockade also impairs business activity in the region and has hindered US military operations to fight the so-called Islamic State. Also on Monday, Tillerson said he did not "expect that this will have any significant impact, if any impact at all, on the unified fight against terrorism in the region or globally". Tillerson said the USA was asking Qatar to "be responsive to the concerns of its neighbors".

Trump aides also stressed the need for Qatar and "all countries in the region working together to prevent the financing of terrorist organizations and stop the promotion of extremist ideology".

An initial report from Qatar's Interior Ministry late Wednesday said the website of the Qatar News Agency was first hacked in April with "high techniques and innovative methods". They shut off all transport in and out of Qatar, and gave Qatari residents two weeks to leave their nations.

The in a delicate position with Qatar, particularly given the significant American troop presence at several military bases.

It shows that Qatar "announces fighting terrorism on one hand and finances and supports and hosts different terrorist organisations on the other hand", they said.

The phone call contrasted sharply with a series of tweets posted on Tuesday when Trump seemed to back the Saudi decision to isolate Qatar.

He suggested Qatar was funding extremism.

In a statement released on Wednesday, UAE's Attorney General Hamad Saif al-Shamsi said sympathizing with Qatar was a cybercrime punishable by law.

"Despite the difficulty of the crisis on the Gulf and its people, but in clear relief, it is hard to deal with a partner in his duplicity to undermine world partners", Gargash noted.

  • Zachary Reyes