Qatar row: US shifts tone as Turkish troops arrive in Doha
- Author: Leroy Wright Jun 21, 2017,
Jun 21, 2017, 12:22
Qatar's Foreign Minister Monday told reporters that his country will not be bullied into negotiations with Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Egypt and allies if they do not lift the air, sea and land blockades they have imposed on the tiny Emirate over terrorism funding charges.
"The more the time goes by, the more doubt is raised about the actions taken by Saudi Arabia and the UAE", Nauert said.
Nauert said Tillerson remains engaged on the issue - having more than 20 phone calls and meetings since the diplomatic crisis began, including three phone calls and two in-person meetings with the Saudi foreign minister, three calls with the Qatari foreign minister and three calls with the Qatari emir.
Nauert very directly faulted the Saudis for their move against Qatar, noting neither they nor other nations involved have offered any details to back up their allegations, and suggesting that the blockade was not about Qatar's alleged support for terrorism, but long-standing grievances among GCC countries.
"The secretary likes results, and we believe these [disputes] are because of long, long-brewing tensions among the various parties, and so we want them to resolve it", she added.
Only hours earlier, Tillerson went in front of cameras at the State Department to say the blockade was "hindering U.S. military actions in the region and the campaign against ISIS". "Let's get this going'".
"So good to see [my] Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries paying off", he wrote.
The Pentagon has said the boycott was hindering US ability to plan for long-term operations in the region.
Meanwhile, Turkish troops have arrived in Doha for joint military exercises in a show of support for the Qataris.
Tillerson had made the Qatar crisis his main priority and cleared his travel schedule this week. "We have to stop the funding of terrorism". 'Every day, 750 tonnes of food are exported to Qatar from the Bolkheir port in the Tangestan region, as well as 350 tonnes from Dayyer Road, ' stressed the official.
But it plunged the U.S., also a Saudi ally, into a delicate balancing act because of its Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, where it has some 10,000 troops.
A USA official said Washington is urging Qatar to take steps to defuse the crisis, including signing on to proposals being drawn up the Treasury Department to strengthen controls against financing of militant groups.
"Any expression of sympathy with the government of Qatar or opposition to the measures taken by the government of Bahrain, whether through social media, Twitter, or any other form of communication, is a criminal offense punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine", the Interior Ministry's statement said on June 8.